Discover Our Fleet
Dewatering Solutions

A ‘Heads-up’ from Rand-Air for the mining sector

September 11, 2020

Rand Air

As the established leader in the local portable air compressor and generator rental market, Rand-Air maintains an excellent reputation, based on its ethos of exceeding customers’ expectations and through the regular training and development of its people.

Recently, Rand-Air has introduced two robust and durable pump ranges for use within a variety of applications, and more specifically, into the mining sector.

Henry Fourie, Business Development Manager at Rand-Air, explains that when it comes to rentals, the company provides TUV-certified oil-free, diesel or electric air solutions; as well as power and lighting solutions – and more recently, pumps, from international parent company Atlas Copco’s Power Technique business (part of the Speciality Rental Division).

“There are two types of pumps in the new range: the Weda electrical submersible pump, which features low to medium heads. The other type of pump is the PAS/VAR diesel-driven variety.

“The impellers on the pumps are coated and highly durable, making them able to withstand corrosive materials, to a point. They also offer good high and low flows, with high heads which enable easy evacuation of material up an incline. This makes them very appropriate for use in mining and also many other applications.

Furthermore, while the pumps have been available as part of Rand-Air’s business line since about 2014, they were originally only as a purchase option. The decision to offer a rental option more recently is two-fold: the first being a response to the tight economy; and the other being that while rentals conserve capital, when a pump is out of action, risking unnecessary downtime, rentals offer the immediacy of replacement and safeguards unhindered productivity,” Fourie points out.

Rentals also remove maintenance and downtime concerns. To this end, -Rand-Air offers a 24/7 standby service, scheduled inspections, substitute equipment when necessary, maintenance, parts, labour and travelling costs – all as part of its renowned customer-centric service offering.

Atlas Copco’s centrifugal water pumps are robustly designed and developed to offer high-level performance, dependability and ease of use across a variety of industries – including surface pumping applications – such as construction and mine site dewatering, floodwater removal, and other infrastructure applications. Easy servicing of wear components also means reduced downtime and improved productivity, without stopping workflow.

“The Weda range of electric submersible pumps features a built-in starter and motor protection system, along with optional automatic level control. Beside a conveniently modular design, they also feature a unique sealing system, making for flexible in-field applications and ease of maintenance. Adjustable wear-resistant rubber diffusors and hardened high-chrome (55 HRC) impellers ensure robustness in the harsh open cast mining environment,” says Fourie.

Various options of lightweight electric submersible pumps are available, designed with the largest apertures to facilitate handling of sludge, slurry-pumping and drainage applications required on mines, and available in global voltages.

An additional advantage of the Weda range is that, as they are manufactured from aluminium instead of cast iron, and feature a slimmed-down design, they are 40% lighter than other pumps of similar specification.

Currently, Rand-Air supplies the pumps to many opencast mines, with several Weda S pumps operating in gold mines for sludge-pumping applications; while demand continues to grow in the coal mining sector for deployment in dewatering pits and for the transfer of water from one dam to another.

The PAS/VAR diesel-driven pump series is capable of handling solids of up to 100 mm, with heads of up to 120 m and maximum flow rates of up to 2 100 m3/h.

“The PAS range was introduced because of significant demand from the opencast sector for high-pressure units, with the latest addition to the range capable of handling up to a 200 m head,” Fourie explains.

“These pumps meet the needs of the opencast mining industry for high-head pumps, which allow for easy evacuation of material up an incline.”

The VAR range’s open impeller and solids-handling abilities make it ideal for deployment in medium construction and flood-control applications, he observes.

“Being diesel-driven, these hard-wearing, robust pumps are ideal for areas where power is not available as they can be taken to site, off-loaded with a crane truck and can start working immediately,” Fourie explains.

In addition, where a pump has gone in for repairs, Rand-Air can hire out a provisional replacement pump that can run 24/7. “These robust pumps can run uninterrupted as long as there is fuel in the system, because they were designed for continuous operation.”

At present, the underground mining sector is not a focus for Rand-Air owing to essential and specific criteria for the deployment of equipment underground, such as the necessity for units to be explosion-proof, flame-proof and spark-proof. While the company is currently considering this sector of the market as a potential focus area for the future, Fourie says that demand for underground rental is typically not as high as that within the opencast mining sector, especially around electric- or diesel-driven pumps.

Looking ahead, Fourie says that despite the constrained economy and markets having become more price-and-service-conscious as a result, local industries – including mining – still require air, flow and power solutions to support their operational activities.

“Therefore, compressors, pumps and generators will always be in demand – and Rand-Air will be there with value-adding and customer-centric solutions aimed at addressing our customer’s application challenges and requirements,” he concludes.