March 3, 2020 | 5 minute read
By Warren Paul Smith
Mining Vertical Market Director at John Crane
Mines are challenging environments for rotating equipment. Dust, vibration and slurry solids all take tolls on pump and mixer seal components, and seal meantime between repair (MTBR), in some mines, is measured only in weeks, causing lost production and other cost headaches.
As more pressure is put on mines to boost the bottom line, management is taking a closer look at all operating costs, including water. Mines can use millions of gallons of water when processing minerals and ores.
Typical component seal and packing installations do little to address these common mining operational concerns. However, in most cases, MTBR can be extended by months or even years with proper seal strategy and technical support.
Easily installed and readily available cartridge seals, many designed to handle the tough mining environment, come pre-engineered and pre-assembled, significantly shortening installation times. By working with an experienced supplier, it is easy to choose readily available seal face treatments that not only help improve MTBR, but also greatly reduce water and energy consumption costs.
For example, take the story of a large, remote gold mine in Peru. The conventional seals and packing on 120 slurry pumps required repair about once a month. Following an upgrade to John Crane’s Type 5840 and Type 5860 slurry seals, MTBR improved to six months. Today, the mine is saving $120,000 per month in reduced seal maintenance.
Within six months, the mine was also able to improve information flow and cataloging with the help of John Crane technical mining services, reducing seal delivery to just one week. The John Crane team also worked with mine executives to organize technical information and installation documentation, greatly reducing the number of installation and repair mistakes made by on-site mine technicians. Mine operations can now track rotary equipment reliability data to align with corporate key performance indicators.
Another mine located in the United States cut annual water consumption from 856,800 gallons to just 547 gallons. The gold mine upgraded to John Crane’s Dynamic Lift Up-stream Pumping (USP) seal face technology, used in conjunction with the Type-5620 series cartridge seals, to achieve water use reduction. The seals with USP face treatment have yet to be repaired, even after 10 years of operation.
Short seal MTBR and high water expenses don’t have to be the cost of doing business in a mine