ATC Williams offer Slurry and Mechanical Services

In our view, the design of a tailings storage facility is a multidisciplinary engineering effort in which process and mechanical engineering become an integral part of the complete service we offer to our clients. Our highly experienced in-house team specialise in the hydraulic, process and mechanical aspects of tailings and water management systems.

The Slurry and Mechanical Service Area’s primary functions are to provide specialist laboratory testing, leading design and project optimisation services for mechanical infrastructures associated with tailings and water management systems, consisting of:

  • Tailings Dewatering System (i.e. thickeners, filters etc.);
  • Tailings Transportation System;
  • Tailings Distribution and Deposition System;
  • Decant Water Return System; and
  • Seepage and Underdrainage Collection System.

Laboratory Inputs

Material characterisation defines the slurry’s basic and rheological properties and is often essential to develop a robust, optimised, and uniquely tailored solution. Our comprehensive material characteristics facility undertakes a full spectrum of material characterisation and in-house developed specialised material characterisation tests to provide crucial inputs to our Slurry and Mechanical Engineering designs.

Our rheological laboratory testing facility offers:

  • Fully instrumented pipe loop facility for complex tailings rheological assessment;
  • Fully instrumented pipe blockage and re-suspension test apparatus;
  • Wear-wheel testing; and
  • Data Analysis and Design Parameters Definition.

Hydraulic Design Validation

Accurate prediction of material friction behaviour is a critical input to designing any solids particles suspension hydraulic transport solution. Overprediction of friction loss will result in the installation of excessive pumping capacity that will never be used. Underprediction of friction loss will result in a tailings delivery system unable to handle the desired flow rate and density.

Accessing data from the existing operating tailings delivery system and results from our pipe loop facility, we have developed in-house material friction behaviour models progressively validated with wider material types. These are adopted to design tailings delivery systems confidently.

CFD Modelling

Numerical computer-aided modelling such as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) can be helpful analysis tools to demonstrate the performance of a mechanical element specifically designed for a particular application.

We offer CFD modelling for tailings distribution vessels, distribution tanks and drop boxes to access the flow pattern and identify extremely sheared zones for erosion and material deposition assessment.

Stress and Transient Analysis

We provide a comprehensive Pipe Stress Analysis for tailings and water pipelines. The primary objective of Pipe Stress Analysis is to assess a pipe system for structural integrity.

Pipe Stress Analysis offers the most cost-effective solutions to the end-user without compromising the safe system operability.

We identify and analyse all potential load combinations that can act on a piping system, including:

  • Loads due to internal and external pressure and sustained loads such as self-weight
  • Thermal loads due to temperature variations
  • Occasional loads (seismic, wind, and snow)
  • Transient loads such as water hammer

Pipe Stress Analysis provides the following key benefits in pipeline design:

  • Maintaining the stresses in the pipes within allowable limits that prevent failures and leakages
  • Maintaining the equipment (such as pumps) nozzle loads under the permissible limits that prevent nozzle failures
  • Providing the ability to optimise the pipe support design
  • Estimating displacements and deflections in the piping system

Transition to Non-Conventional Tailings Dewatering

In recent years, conventional low-density tailings deposition and management systems have lost favour due to the increased risk of dam failures. On this basis, regulations have evolved to adopt new tailings management technologies that minimise the risk associated with conventional Tailings Storage Facilities (TSF).

The Slurry and Mechanical Engineering team assist our project design teams and clients in developing the most suitable flowsheet for the project. They can select and size the proper mechanical components (i.e. thickener, filters, mixers, cyclone, etc.) to meet the non-conventional tailings management system requirements.

Please reach out to the ATC Williams Melbourne Office on 03 8587 9000 or contact Sadegh Javadi Rudd at sadeghj@atcwilliams.com.au to discuss how we can assist you with your project