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Aegion South Africa ‘conveys’ improved, cost-effective bulk mineral hydro-transportation solutions in the pan-African mining sector

Africa faces the urgent problem of having to address its ageing pipeline infrastructure. Specialist pipeline rehabilitation company, Aegion South Africa, has a range of highly effective solutions to this pressing problem; and has been providing successful project solutions locally and to various other African countries, using advanced technology sourced from its US-based majority shareholder Aegion. This advanced technology is very effectively combined with Aegion South Africa’s local knowledge, supported by the extensive expertise and experience of its South African shareholder Robor.

“One of our main focal areas is that of hydro-transportation technology solutions, which involve the transportation of solids in a liquid carrier stream,” explains Aegion South Africa General Manager Johann Scholtz, adding that hydro-transportation is of particular relevance in the mining industry.

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The first international conference on hydro-transportation was held in Coventry in England in 1970 according to the South African Institute of Mining And Metallurgy (SAIMM). Today, just a few decades later, hydro-transportation is becoming an increasingly important consideration for the mining industry – which is under ever greater pressure to conserve the environment. When solids are carried in a closed pipe, environmental concerns such as dust, spillage and noise are eliminated.

In addition, hydro-transportation, which is now being widely used throughout the world, is proving to be more cost-effective than other bulk transportation systems such as conveyor belts, long haul road or rail transportation. “An important factor here is that hydro-transportation pipelines require less maintenance than comparable bulk transportation systems,” adds Scholtz.

Much of Africa is chronically short of water. Hydro-transportation also presents a viable alternative to conventional tailings deposition. “In arid water-scarce regions, the pumping of ‘paste’ tailings cuts water usage and losses dramatically,” he explains.

In Southern Africa currently, Aegion South Africa has been supplying hydro-transportation solutions to several of the major mining houses in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia; and has completed hydro-transportation projects for a number of Southern African platinum, gold and copper mines.

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Aegion’s proprietary pipeline technology the Tite Liner system – as well as its Steel Polypipe spool solution – are used in both new and rehabilitation solutions for hydro-transportation.

Complete replacement of pipelines is costly and time-consuming, but Aegion sister company United Pipeline Systems developed and provides the world’s leading in-situ polyethylene pipe lining systems for the rehabilitation of existing installations. This solution has proven to be a major improvement over replacement options – especially in pipelines that are in a poor condition. The specialised wear-resistant polymer provides excellent flow characteristics that in some cases improve the overall system performance. This factor releases significant savings when hydro-transporting over extended distances.

Aegion South African shareholder, Robor’s Pipe Systems division, manufactures and supplies a range of steel pipe and customised conveyance pipe solutions and products.

“At Aegion South Africa, we are fortunate to be able to tap into this experience and expertise,” says Scholtz, adding that the company is also cooperating with South African consulting engineers and globally-renowned hydro-transportation specialists.

The transportation of corrosive or abrasive slurry materials in the oil, gas, mining, industrial and municipal markets will lead to rapid failure if the correct solution is not implemented from the outset.

The HDPE-lined Steel Polypipe system combines the inherent strength of steel with the visco-elastic properties of HDPE to deliver high-pressure capability, structural integrity, resistance to mechanical damage and chemical and abrasion resistance – properties well suited for use in hydro-transportation projects for more than 20 years.

Mining the world over is under pressure as the grades of available new orebody discoveries decline. The answer is in larger volume mining and more effective and economical minerals processing.

“Africa is the world’s last relatively unexplored mining frontier; and as Aegion South Africa, we look forward to providing our advanced and cost-effective hydro-transportation solutions to both new and existing mining operations,” Scholtz concludes.

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