Water management for coal operating

Sunday, 03 July, 2005

Sykes Group and BHP Billiton have worked together to design an efficient and environmentally friendly water management system for the Mt Arthur Coal Operations in the Hunter Valley. Sykes Group's Chris Molloy worked with the environmental manager for Mt Arthur Coal, Ralph Northey, to address three main areas.

  1. High volume equipment

    The importance of maintaining regular coverage for dust suppression meant that high volume equipment was required. 170,000 L water trucks were used, these are the largest used anywhere in Australia and needed to be filled quickly. Two Sykes VP300 (12") Vacuum Prime electric drive pumps were selected for this duty operating at 960 rpm connected in parallel. This minimised the fill time to 5 min at 550 L/s. This fill point has remote start by radio communications allowing simple operation while conserving time and resources.

  2. Main pit de-watering

    It was important for the dewatering of the main pit to be efficient. Five Sykes HH200i (8") compressor prime pumps, diesel driven to 2100 rpm with 400 kW of power were selected to transfer mine water to any of the several dam locations. Each unit was mounted on a heavy-duty pontoon with sound attenuated canopies fitted to reduce the noise levels to 72 dBa at 7 m.

    Mt Arthur's Nigel Ervine and Brian Nowlen commented that the five HH200is have allowed de-watering to be carried out a lot quicker than previously with available capacity for a heavy rain event.

  3. Water transfer pumps

    Sykes HH150 (6") electric drive pumps both with and without compressor priming were selected to complete the system. Located at fill point dams, transfer tanks and storage dams, these pumps are needed to transfer water to any part of the site that has a requirement.

Nine water transfer units were required to balance the system, all complete with soft starters and telemetry to automatically transfer water on demand based on levels at the different locations. The versatility of the HH150 enabled one model to be used for all of the varying duties. This was well received by Mt Arthur Coal's management minimising spares, training and costs.

Sykes engineering team worked closely with Mt Arthur Coal personnel to ensure all requirements were accounted for.

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