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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717


LOMBARD, R.. A critical evaluation of the water reticulation system at Vlaklaagte Shaft, Goedehoop Colliery. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2015, vol.115, n.4, pp. 271-283. ISSN 2411-9717.

Water is a very important component in the production process at underground coal mines. Current unfavourable economic conditions have forced the coal mining industry to identify and address every possible bottleneck preventing optimal production. An increase in water-related downtime was identified as one of the bottlenecks at Goedehoop Colliery's Vlaklaagte Shaft. The purpose of this project was to identify the various causes that contributed to the high downtime (501 hours in 2013, which led to a potential profit loss of R12.9 million) and to suggest possible solutions. After a thorough investigation the main causes of water-related downtime were identified as low water pressure and low water flow caused by pipe leakages and bursts. The main root cause for the low water flow and pressure was identified as being the low pressure resistance (1600 kPa) of the thin-walled galvanized steel pipes used in the underground inbye water reticulation system. The pipes were selected according to the previous 1000 kPa pressure requirement for the continuous miner. However, the pressure requirement changed to 1500 kPa, which resulted in the pipes being exposed to much higher pressures than designed for. The water reticulation system was reviewed and current and future underground pipe layout and water requirements were determined for the shaft. The time frame in which the water consumption would be the highest was determined to be between 1 January 2014 and 7 September 2014. Machine and sprayer specifications were used to determine the water consumption at the shaft. Three different solutions were considered to solve the water-related downtime problem and to ensure the efficient supply of water to the newly open sections. Permanent underground concrete dams, semi-mobile dams, or new pipe columns with a higher pressure resistance of 3200 kPa were considered. A trade-off study (taking into consideration cost, time to completion and ease of implementation, maintenance requirements, safety, and flexibility) was completed to determine which of these solutions would be most viable.

Keywords : water reticulation; down time; pipe bursts; leakages; cascade dam system; permanent dams; portable dams.

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