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Piping stress challenges

Back in 2021, the engineers at Hatch were designing FMG’s new 22 Mtpa magnetite concentrate plant.  Stress testing showed that sections of the piping would be under significant stress due to:

Thermal movement
Ambient temperature fluctuations would cause the gravity circuit’s HDPE piping to expand and contract by 420mm per day. This would cause the lines to kink and crack.

Low engineering tolerance
The wide variety in piping sizes, types, and geometries in process plants often results in misalignment. This was exacerbated by the modular construction of the Iron Bridge plant. Each section had multiple spools to connect. Any mistakes in design and manufacturing would cause installation delays and stress on the pipework when workers tried to make it all fit together.

The pressure was on to find a solution. They realised flexible mining hose could solve many of their issues, so they gave us a call.

Refining plant specifications

We’ve worked with iron ore plants worldwide to combat piping issues. The team knew we could help with proven options for Iron Bridge.

We reviewed the piping specifications to ensure the plant would run at optimal performance from the start.

Our recommendations

1. Increase flexibility in feed lines
Stress testing showed that rigid pipe in the gravity circuit would crack and snap from the extreme pipe movement.

The Hatch team considered standard mining hose, but even that was too rigid for this application. Standard mining hose has a bend radius of 8-10D. It will kink and split on tight bends or short lengths.

We suggested they use Slurryflex SF hoses. It’s the only hard wall mining hose that can reach a bend radius of 4-7D—it can bend, flex, and move without kinking.

2. Increase tolerance for misalignment
The design engineers realised flexible piping could solve design challenges across the entire plant – from the cyclone feed to the tailings line.

Flexible hose can accommodate misalignment and tight geometry. New plants often have fit issues, so extra tolerance in the piping ensures the system bolts together easily and quickly.

We recommended that they specify Slurryflex SF hoses throughout the entire plant. They agreed that it would reduce installation delays from poor fitting pipework and make the entire construction and commissioning process more efficient.

Better processing plant design

Our Brisbane manufacturing team built 702 Slurryflex SF hoses for the project – ranging in size from 500mm to 4m – and delivered them to site on schedule ready for installation.

Flexible piping meant the commissioning crew avoided extra delays from having to rework poor fitting rigid piping. Also, fewer spools and end connections installation easier and quicker.

FMG Iron Bridge produced its first magnetite product in April 2023. It’s a great achievement and we’re proud to work with FMG and the Hatch team to innovate iron ore process plant design.

Super flexibility Achieve a 4-7D bend radius

More give, less wear No kinks or splits on tight bends

Durability Resistant to abrasive wear

Long wear life Set & forget piping

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