Tuesday, 16 April 2024
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Role of pipeline infrastructure in mitigating climate risks is undervalued

Home Engineering Pumps, Valves, Hydraulics, Pneumatics Role of pipeline infrastructure in mitigating climate risks is undervalued

A silent climate revolution is underway in the maze of pipelines in the mining industry experiencing an acceleration in environmental, social and governance (ESG) adoption.

That’s according to Tumi Tsehlo, CEO of Dynamic Fluid Control (DFC), a global valve manufacturer, who said the introduction of carbon tax has pushed South African miners to increasingly consider all possible ways of limiting carbon exposure.

“One of their core areas which is of great interest to the valves and pumps industry is ore and tailing transportations,” Tsehlo added.

“At its most basic, simply mixing the ore with a liquid to make a slurry which can be transported through a pipe can pay green dividends. This comes with a number of handling advantages, requires minimum maintenance and has low environmental impact.”

Already several operations in South Africa use pipelines to move mining material over long distances.

“Trucks and automobiles produce over 70% of the total road transport emissions in SA. A truck burning 400 litres of diesel produces a ton of CO2 which would take a typical hardwood tree over 40 years to sequester. While the figures are open to debate, the value of pipeline transportation is not and must be recognised for their contribution to greening.”

A pipeline transportation system is only as good as the valves on it which are required to control and manage the flow of the medium. However, said Tsehlo, valve manufacturers are getting a rap they do not deserve because of cheaper imports and improper installations.

DFC which makes Saunders Diaphragm Valves, SKG Knife Gate Valves, RF Pinch Valves and Vent-O-Mat Air Valves, key to surface operations of copper, iron ore and gold miners believes that the widespread adoption of pipelines for transportation is hindered by opportunistic players who import cheaper substandard valves.

Most times these valves do not function as intended because they are installed without studying the piping system design, poorly located to tackle flow rates and in many instances are a wrong fit for the application, Tsehlo said.

Properly sized and installed valves, by contrast, deliver optimum system performance with minimum maintenance. Any deviation from this could cost millions of rands in downtime.

“Without valves, actuators and controls, a pipeline would not be as useful.”

It is never smooth sailing inside the pipeline and valves are constantly exposed to vibrations, turbulence, corrosive and abrasive tailings or concentrate slurry material, energy losses and pressure. A valve at all times must perform and seal without exception. A poor choice of valve poorly installed and not built for local conditions can force the pipeline to explode or implode, Tsehlo warned.

DFC which has been in business since 1947 designs its own valves and manufactures most of the critical components that go into a valve at its factory in Benoni.

“Valves on transport pipelines play the same role they play inside the heart. Valves must be reliable or they could collapse the system. It is for this reason that we devote efforts to extensive research and development and manufacture in most markets to be closer to local conditions like Australia, Finland and US amongst others,” said Tsehlo.

“Pipeline transportation can be a powerful force to accelerate towards net zero emissions with valve manufacturers forming a fulcrum to help the mining sector mitigate climate risk load. The trinity of pipelines, valves and pumps can progress environmental protection on site, a critical action point for the mining sector.”

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