Can a plastic pump handle harsh mine dewatering?

An ideal pump for harsh mine dewatering applications would be one that is lightweight, resistant to corrosion, easy to maintain as well as able to pass large solids through the system, says Myro Bratkovic, State Manager (QLD) of Kelair Pumps Australia. But is it possible for a non-metallic pump to tick all of these boxes?


According to Mr Bratkovic, typical cast iron or other non-metallic diaphragm pumps are very heavy and cumbersome, making them challenging to carry into small access areas.

“In some instances workers cannot get their underground vehicles close enough to where they need to install the dewatering pump, meaning that they might have to carry the pump five or six hundred meters away.

A “2” cast iron pump can weigh over 60kgs, and this can be up to two times heavier than an equivalent sized plastic bodied pump.

“Carrying a heavy item is a major health and safety issue which requires extra human resources to transport and install a pump in a difficult or remote underground location,” said Mr Bratkovic.

Corrosion and maintenance

Plastic bodied ball valve pumps are commonly used in mine sites, and their resistance to corrosion is an added benefit. However, ball valve design pumps require disassembly in order to carry out any basic maintenance works such as clearing a pump blockage.

“Depending on the geography of the mine site, the pumped solution may be slightly acidic.

“Over time, this can corrode the body of a metallic pump, and eventually lead to the pump being inoperable or costly to repair.

“Because of this, a non-metallic casing is ideal for longevity of your dewatering equipment.

“Ball valve designed pumps do not allow for easy access if a blockage in the pump occurs, and will need to be disassembled.

“Removing the pump from the mine and taking it above ground for repair or maintenance work is a costly procedure, both in terms of personnel as well as operational down time.

“As miners’ time is precious and expensive, the less downtime caused by pump maintenance the better,” said Mr Bratkovic.

Solving this maintenance problem

According to Mr Bratkovic, the Sandpiper HD20F is the next generation in mine dewatering, as it has the advantage of being both a flap-check valve pump as well as having a non-metallic body.

“This design combination is quite unique and has all of the advantages of a Sandpiper metallic flap valve pump, while being free from corrosion.

“The flap-check valves on the Sandpiper HD20F allow access to the pump without having to dismantle the pump.

“There are access ports on the side that are unique to this Sandpiper design, and are not found on any other dewatering pump on the global market.

“The benefit of this is that if you have a blockage, you can quickly clear it and put the pump back into service without needing to remove it from the site,” said Mr Bratkovic.

Coping with large solids

The Sandpiper HD20F flap valve design allows the pump to pass large solids through the system, without causing any damage to the pump.

“The amount that the flap check opens, dictates the size of the solid that can pass through the pump.

“In terms of the Sandpiper HD20F which can handle solids of up to 44mm in size. That means that if the solid can pass through the pump’s two-inch suction hose, then it can also pass through the pump.

“As well as this, the Sandpiper HD20F has very low air consumption when compared to some of the major brand 2inch plastic pumps.

“Depending on the actual pump duty, comparison testing in the Sandpiper laboratory has shown that the Sandpiper HD20F pump can consume between 25 per cent to 40 per cent less compressed air than other brands of pump.

“For big and small users of air powered pumps alike, this is a significant energy saving and an ongoing one,” said Mr Bratkovic.

Proven technology

According to Mr Bratkovic, the Sandpiper HD20F was designed around the existing metallic Sandpiper Heavy Duty HDF2 that has proven technology in terms of its air system, diaphragms and flap valves.

“The original design has been around for a number of years, which means that the longevity of the unit is already there.

“Because of this, you can be sure that the new, plastic bodied HD20F will last longer than the metallic model in corrosive environments.

“As many of the internal components of the original metallic Sandpiper Heavy Duty Flap Valve Pump are identical to the new HD20F model, so a number of spare parts can also be interchanged if required.

“This is a fantastic advantage for users of the metallic model, who can continue to use spare parts that they have previously purchased.” said Mr Bratkovic.

Versatility and energy savings

Apart from being well suited to mine dewatering, the Sandpiper HD20F can also be used in other harsh industrial applications.

“An example of this was our recent sale of the HD20F model to pump starch and waste at a manufacturing facility in North Queensland.

“Our client had been using a large number of the older, aluminium bodied Sandpiper SA2 model of the same flap-check design and was needing to begin to replace them due to corrosion.

“Caustic is a main constituent of starch and was slowly corroding away each pump. Many of the customers existing Sandpiper SA2A pumps were around 20 years old.

“We started our investigations on the basis of both corrosion prevention as well as energy savings, by also looking at air consumption and production requirements.

“As Kelair Pumps Australia is the only distributor of Sandpiper pumps in Australia, we have access to Sandpiper’s fantastic energy consumption calculation program, which helps us calculate the cost of operation based on air consumption.

“We can utilise this program no matter the pump application, and are able to provide our clients with both an energy and dollar saving.

“In the case of the box manufacturing facility, as the pumps are becoming uneconomical to repair, we are changing over their pumps to the HD20F models, giving the client a solution that provided an energy cost saving as well as a pumping solution that would not corrode.

“In addition to these benefits, the client happen to have spare parts from his original pumps and was pleasantly surprised to be able to use these on the new range,” said Mr Bratkovic.

Out of hours support

The personnel at Kelair Pumps Australia pride themselves on their ability to carry out works around the clock, including working on weekends.

“We operate very much like a small business up here in Mackay, at the Kelair Pumps Australia Queensland division.

“We are a tight-knit family, and we simply get together to organise site works even if required on weekends or after hours.

“Everyone is keen to help out, as we work toward the common goal of solving our clients’ pump problems.

“We look after each other and strive to give our customers the best quality service to get the job done, and done well,” said Mr Bratkovic.

For more information on the Sandpiper HD20F or any of Kelair Pumps Australia’s dewatering range, please contact our Kelair Pumps Australia on 1300 789 466.

Sign up for the latest news

Local call Australia-wide 1300 789 466