Whilst the technical and commercial feasibility for long distance slurry pipelines is now well proven in mining and other industries, existing pipeline assets are ageing. In this new, mature phase in the slurry pipeline industry, there now exists an increased risk of failure. Ausenco’s Pipeline Users’ Symposium was developed to progress industry excellence for long distance slurry pipelines. Held in Santiago recently and organised by the company, the symposium was developed specifically to address the very real risk of pipeline failure and to discuss options to minimise it.

As leaders in the engineering design and construction of long distance slurry pipelines, Ausenco says it is well qualified to lead the discussion having been involved in the engineering of approximately 80% of pipelines, worldwide, which in mining includes some of the largest ever built including the slurry pipelines involved in the Anglo Minas Rio iron ore project at 529 km and the Ambatovy nickel laterite project in Madagascar at 208 km.

“There is currently no legal requirement to report or investigate failures in long distance slurry pipelines, and the ability for the industry to quantify, learn and improve from failures is limited,” said Ausenco’s VP Pipelines, JP Fortin. “Due to our long history in this industry, and our involvement in more than 9,000 km of long distance slurry pipeline operations, we certainly have the lions’ share of relevant information to benchmark and baseline our industry.”

Invited guests included clients from around the world, with existing and ageing, operating infrastructure and representing 22 of the estimated 35 long distance pipelines currently in operation, globally. The open and collaborative forum allowed for the sharing of concerns and challenges, contributing to the identification of core issues and priorities for the slurry pipeline industry.

“Our industry is entering a new chapter,” Fortin said, “a more mature chapter where sustainability and integrity of our pipeline assets will play an increasingly prominent role in the design, operation and maintenance of our pipelines.” During the two day event, cost effective, proven and high value approaches to reducing operational risk were identified. Delegates were also given a preview of Ausenco’s recently updated Pipeline Operation and Leak Detection software.

The company has committed to the inclusion of key identified elements as part of their standard design which it says will offer clients low cost options to mitigate the risk of high cost failures going forward. “We recognise the importance of reliable operating pipeline assets and understand that the long-term success of any pipeline rests with the proactive strategies taken by, and expertise of, its operators,” commented Fortin in closing the event. “We look forward to developing the structures to assist operators and to working together to improve industry performance.”

Through the Ausenco Pipeline Users’ Symposium, “Ausenco has now set a baseline comparison for industry performance on pipeline integrity, providing a platform for measurable improvement. Ausenco is both well placed and committed to leading industry best practice going forward.”

Article as it appeared in International Mining. You can access the article online here: http://bit.ly/2QdijVs.