In 2019, a gold mine in BC built a new paste plant and needed a system to easily move water from an existing pond over a large distance and up a hill to the new plant. Due to the unique requirements of this installation, they couldn’t use any of their existing systems in this challenging environment and turned to Chamco to help them design a new system.
The customer needed to move water from a pond to their new plant but the climate and landscape both presented some challenges. The system needed to withstand the harsh winter conditions and be able to move the water a long distance and up a steep gradient.
Distance and Elevation
Not only was there a significant distance between the pond and the plant but the plant was located at a higher elevation than the pond, meaning that the pump solution would need to move water uphill. The challenge with pumping water uphill is that gravity is working against the desired flow. Additionally, the existing infrastructure also only had medium voltage available which added to the challenge of moving the water.
Due to the extreme cold conditions at the site, the pond freezes in the winter. The mine needed a solution to ensure the decanter system didn’t freeze, could continue to function, and would not be damaged due to ice buildup.
Although the top of the pond was crystal clear, the bottom of the pond was full of sludge. When the water levels dropped in the pond, there was a risk of the system sucking sludge from the bottom of the pond, which would be problematic for the mine’s operations.
Why the Gold Mine Chose Chamco
Prior to this project, Chamco had already established a strong relationship with this customer. The customer was pleased that Chamco could be a one-stop-shop for this project, providing the pump solutions and deicing systems, and assisting with the electrical challenges. With many successful projects completed for the customer over the years, including a barge, vertical turbine pumps and compressor systems, it was natural that they turned to Chamco as a partner they could trust to meet the many challenges of this project.
Chamco overcame the many challenges to provide a system that included one self-priming water package, one booster package and a decanter, which allowed the mine to easily move water from the pond to the plant. Shore-based pump systems including self-priming Cornell pumps proved to be the best option for this project. When the system starts, there doesn’t need to be water in the pipeline because the self-primer on the front of the pump will slowly vacuum up water until the pump is completely flooded. And once water starts to flow in a self-priming pump, it will continue to flow until it’s shut down.
Chamco provided two electric de-icers as part of this project. Electronic-driven de-icer units were attached to the deicers that were then attached to the decanter. They are kept just below the water surface, agitating the water enough to prevent ice from forming. When the pond freezes, the water does not freeze for about 10 metres around the decanter. Since the decanter is connected to the pipeline that connects to the pump package, everything can continue to operate smoothly regardless of the cold temperatures.
As part of this project, Chamco modified a decanter system to make it a floating intake using Neptune floats. We also designed a set of legs for the decanter to ensure it doesn’t go lower into the pond and suck in sludge if the water levels drop. If this happened, the legs would touch the bottom, keeping the decanter elevated.
The system also has an automatic shutoff by means of a flow switch on the decanter that is triggered if the legs touch the bottom. When the water level drops, a signal is sent that there is not enough water and the pump risks sucking up air. Alarm signals will also alert the mine and the system can be shut down at any time.
A Booster Station
In order to overcome the incline and long distance regardless of the low voltage available, Chamco installed a second pump station to act as a booster at the halfway point. We built the secondary skid beside the mine’s power pole, making it easy to bring a cable down to the top of the breaker. We also added a neutral grounding resistor and step-down transformer in the package to reduce the risk of electric shocks.
Chamco solved numerous challenges to deliver a system that ensured the mine could easily move water effectively, despite the harsh winter conditions, elevation, and distance issues. With open channels of communication and a relationship built over many years, the customer never lost faith in Chamco’s ability to deliver what they needed. Now that the system is installed, it continues to operate with very little human intervention.
“Our customer knew that we were problem solvers. They needed to move water to a very remote location and there were a number of issues, including the power, keeping the system from freezing, moving water, and not sucking in sludge. They had an issue and we offered a solution.”