Image: Collahuasi: Pipeline Integrity Management System (PIMS)

Minerals & Metals3 min read

Collahuasi: Pipeline Integrity Management System (PIMS)

2021 – 2024 (est.) (36 months total duration)

In 2021, Ausenco worked closely with Collahuasi to implement one of the industry’s first Pipeline Integrity Management Systems (PIMS) at their copper mine located in northern Chile. This PIMS provides an overarching framework for effective pipeline asset management, and defines the actions needed to reach expected performance of the pipeline and ensure its integrity.

The current pipeline at the site is part of a copper concentrate transportation system which transfers slurry from the mine site to a ship loading facility 203 km away. Ausenco had worked with Collahuasi in 1994 to build the original pipeline which after close to 30 years of service, was starting to see some problems emerge.

Developing a PIMS for a mining site is not the same as developing one for an oil and gas site; there are different failure mechanisms and risks associated. Leveraging our trusted advisor relationship developed with Collahuasi over our long working history, our team developed a PIMS that focused predominantly on three major areas:

  1. Gap analysis and performance assessment: Our team needed to understand specifics around how the pipeline was operating and existing issues. Conducting a gap analysis and performance assessment allowed us to determine the roadmap and develop a customized system aligned to Collahuasi’s needs.
  2. Documentation and Implementation Plan: A complete set of specific and customized procedures, risk evaluations and a full integrity plan was created. The procedures and plans touched on areas such as type of improvement(s) required, frequency of maintenance and emergency response plans.
  3. Data management: This portion of the work involved the visualization of the data and the design and use of dashboards to view trends, and processes around management of critical data and documents.

Our team provided:

  • Operational support and data reporting
  • Baseline, planning, and implementation of the PIMS
  • Monitoring, improvements and auditing of the system
  • Operational, maintenance and integrity data management
  • Risk-based approach for the prioritization and planning of inspections
  • Training and online support to Collahuasi to expedite return to service

Challenges and Solutions

As this project involves the implementation of one of the first PIMS for a mine site, there were not many best practices or lessons learned to draw from on the project. To deliver an effective PIMS, our team needed to alter our mindset to think of the full lifecycle of the asset (including how it operates) and to understand exactly what happens when there is a failure.

The new pipeline integrity management system also requires training, new procedures, and processes for Collahuasi’s staff, development of key performance indicators and guidance on how to interpret data. As a result, it was easy for the project scope to expand from the original contract. To meet this challenge, we worked closely with our client to effectively manage scope changes and make recommendations on activities that resulted in the best value for Collahuasi.

Outcomes and achievements

Ausenco finished the first year of PIMS implementation in June 2022. Our team will be conducting a full audit early 2023 to determine the effectiveness of the system against predetermined key performance indicators. Working closely with Collahuasi, we will continue to monitor and implement improvements over the next 24 months.