Bagdad Mine Doubles Service Life of Cyclone Fittings in Test of New Fitting Design

Fittings used on abrasive service piping systems such as cyclones, slurry and tailings lines are a common maintenance item in mine processing facilities. Bends are a point of high wear, so the fittings require regular replacement. In addition to the replacement material costs, shutting down the systems to perform this maintenance results in lost productivity. Most mines use lined fittings to slow the wear, thus extending the interval between maintenance shutdowns. Rubber is the most common type of lining material, although ceramic, urethane and other materials are also used.

Victaulic, a manufacturer of mechanical pipe-joining systems, recently developed a new style of fitting that it believes will triple the service life of rubber-lined fittings. Termed XL fittings—XL for extended life—this new design represents the first significant advancement in fitting technology since rubber-lined fittings were introduced several decades ago. The key feature of the new design is a slightly larger outer diameter (OD), which enables an additional quarter inch of lining to be applied to the inner diameter without restricting flow. The fittings are joined to pipe or other XL fittings using XL couplings, which accommodate the fittings’ larger OD.

Freeport-McMoRan’s Bagdad Mine agreed to beta test this new style of fitting. Bagdad Mine is an open-pit copper and molybdenum mining complex located about 100 miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona. The first mill began operation in 1928 to process ore from the underground mine (the transition to open-pit mining began in 1945). Today, the Bagdad operation includes a 75,000-metric-ton-per-day concentrator, as well as an SX/EW plant and a pressure leach plant.

In January 2013, Bagdad Mine installed an XL fitting on a cyclone outlet line that previously used a flanged rubber-lined fitting. Other lines on the cyclone currently employ flanged and grooved rubber-lined fittings, which have an average service life of 2-3 months. In May, the XL fitting was removed to evaluate the lining; observations showed minimal wear, but the fitting was removed for further analysis and replaced with a new XL fitting. The fitting installed in May will be left in place until December, at which point another evaluation will be conducted. Bagdad and Victaulic officials involved in the test expect the fitting will last at least that long, which is more than double the service life of the rubber-lined fittings previously used.

This presentation will cover the research and development process involved in designing the new fitting, engineering specifications, and details and results of the beta test at Bagdad Mine.
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