Pipe launders make their way to chrome

Multotec’s pipe launders are well known in the mineral sands and iron-ore mining industries. The polyvinyl chloride pipe launders have proved their worth in these arduous applications for many years, significantly outperforming their steel rubber-lined counterparts. Now, chrome producers are taking note of their benefits. 

This includes Northam Chrome Producers, the first chrome miner to put Multotec’s pipe launders to the test, and Multotec’s Graeme Smith reports that the company will be supplying an additional 400 running metres to another undisclosed chrome producer shortly.

The pipe launders were supplied as part of a spiral retrofit project at Northam Chrome Producers’ recovery plant. A total of 72 of Multotec’s HX5 and HX3 spirals were designed, manufactured and installed boosting the plant’s recoveries by as much as 6%.

The plant was using conventional steel rubber-lined pipe launders that had been designed initially for the previous installed spirals and were also due for replacement.

Smith says that Multotec’s Technology Division discussed the many advantages offered by its pipe launders with the plant’s management team. “We detailed the proposed layout of the launder solutions, and the team really liked our idea of ensuring a more durable and tidier installation that would also be safer and easier to maintain over time,” says Smith. 

One of the biggest benefits offered by the company’s pipe launders is their durability. Smith says some of the company’s installations in the mineral sands production environment have lasted for up to nine years in highly corrosive coastal environments. What is more, they are easy to maintain. Their design incorporates a replaceable polyurethane boot inside the pipe that endures wear, as opposed to the inside of the pipe. 

“In arduous applications, such as those found in mineral sands and iron ore mining, the boots would have to be replaced about every two to three years,” he says, adding that the boot can be replaced within five minutes.

Manufactured from a much lighter material than steel and having a smaller outside diameter, the Multotec pipe launders are easier to handle and can be installed by two men without the need for any lifting or hanging equipment. The launder pipes supplied to Chrome Producers have an outside diameter of 200 mm, 255 mm and 400 mm.

Every pipe launder, which is installed from the collection point leading down to the sump, had to be specially designed and manufactured to fit into the existing footprint of the plant.

It may just be that more chrome miners will come to experience and appreciate the benefits of a better pipe launder system, thanks to Multotec

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