Demand for Weir Minerals Africa’s Warman mill circuit rubber-lined (MCR) pump is growing substan- tially, having doubled in 2011 alone, says Weir Minerals Africa slurry pumps product manager Rui Gomes.
This is a clear indication that the slurry equipment solutions provider has been successful with regard to market acceptance of this range of products.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth, particularly in West Africa, and the reasons for this are twofold,” says Gomes, attributing the success of the pump not only to its improved performance and good reputation, but also to the hard work and canvassing undertaken by Weir Minerals Africa’s Ghana operation, in West Africa.
Four pumps were ordered in West Africa in 2009, one year after the Warman MCR pump was launched. Last year, six new pumps were installed in the same region.
This year, four new units have been ordered for plants in Central Africa, with an addi- tional order for five units being processed for a mineral sands project in Senegal. This heavy metal sands producer and exporter has ordered three 450MCR units and two 750MCR units – the biggest in this mill circuit range.
The negotiations between Weir Minerals Africa and the client necessitated strategic integration within the Weir Minerals mining division, says Gomes. “This process was started with the groundwork done on site by our Ghana operation, which is a fully fledged sales and service centre.”
Gomes adds that the company’s Ghana operation worked closely with the Weir Minerals projects office in Dubai, which pitched for the formal tender. Further, while the Dubai office negotiated with the client from a financial perspective, technical support was provided by the regional head office in South Africa.
Since Weir Minerals Africa secured the order for a mineral sands project in Senegal, the Dubai and South African operations have worked jointly to manage their contributions to the project, especially with regard to logistics, says Gomes.
“We manufacture some of the parts [for the Warman MCR] here in South Africa, but the majority of the parts for the 750MCR units are sourced from our sister company in South America. We have had to use the best of our communication and project management skills to ensure that timelines are met and everything is predesigned,” he says.
The Warman MCR pump was available globally before it was introduced into Africa in 2008, subsequent to the acquisition of CH Warman by Weir Group.
Based on the product’s global success, Weir Minerals Africa forged ahead with an aggressive marketing campaign in Africa, offering clients on the continent a free trial, with an option to buy afterwards.
“Every one of the trials we ran in Africa was successful,” says Gomes. “The pumps remained in operation after the trial period expired, resulting in the purchase of the equipment.”
Since the Warman MCR pump was first intro- duced, Weir Minerals has made some improvements to the hydraulic profile of the pump’s impeller, which is engineered with a large diameter to reduce the pump’s speed but produce the same amount of tonnage as a conventional design of equal size.
“We do this to reduce the wear on the pump,” explains Gomes. “We’ve found that wear within a pump is directly related to the speed of the pump, so the ability to produce the same amount of tonnage while lowering the speed improves the wear life of that particular pump.”
The Warman MCR pump also features a fully adjustable throatbush, which reduces recirculation and keeps the pump operating at ideal efficiency. It also boasts a quick-change feature enabling technicians to replace the wet end of the pump on site. “We have focused on making pump maintenance as easy as possible – not only in situ, but also in a safe working environment,” says Gomes.
The MCR pump is also manufactured with Weir Minerals’ R55 proprietary rubber, which has high-level tear resistance. “This is ideal for the mill application, which is subject to dense, abrasive slurry and large particles. “This particular rubber has performed very well in these applications, significantly increasing wear life,” he adds.
Another beneficial factor of the Warman MCR pump is its heavy-duty bearing assembly, which allows higher motor capacities. The capacity of the bearings is, therefore, able to handle the larger motor required to run these pumps.
“The mill circuit pumps first come into contact with the slurry before processing starts, which is why the pump is so important,” says Gomes. “Because the mill circuit is the initial inlet to the plant, any downtime will stop the whole plant, which costs our clients money.”
Warman WBH – Product Progress
Meanwhile, Warman’s range of WBH slurry pumps, a new design for heavy-duty slurry applications, was launched last year and is actively being introduced onto the market.
Weir Minerals Africa has three active trials under way, while another two will begin in the next two months, to test the efficacy of the product. “We are confident that the product trials will prove the technological competence and quality of our product, which will ensure market acceptance for this range,” says Gomes.
Weir Minerals also has about 35 active trials of the Warman WBH pump under way worldwide. These are run by sister companies in South America, North America, Europe and Australasia. “This is a very successful global initiative and we certainly draw on the range of expertise available to us as part of a global organisation,” he says.