Industry Link Expo Prize Delivers For Minterra

Australian MadeTony Corkery is the Project Manager at Minterra Pty Ltd, which is part of Westgold Resources Limited. The company was last year’s Win-A-JetGuard pump prize winner, and then it was installed in November 2019. The site at Paddy’s Flat was chosen to be the test site for the new JetGuard pump.

The Australian-made JetGuard® pump went straight into a sump that had an average pump life of between two days and three weeks. The performance of the new JetGuard pump led to a site-wide trial. Since then, the site has been highly engaged and committed to following our PumpEng Pump or Pocket recommendations and The PumpEng Way approach to adding value. 

In this interview, Tony tells the story of that JetGuard pump and how it led to that site-wide trial of PumpEng pumps. He discusses the impact of the changeover in terms of pump performance, reduction in maintenance costs, increased safety and improvements in production output.

I understand that the JetGuard prize pump went into a fairly tough sump burning through pumps from anywhere between two days to three weeks. Those pumps were replaced with a JetGuard pump that lasted six months before the first repair and is currently at 200 days of operation.
Yes. That is correct.

The Site

How do you describe your operation there?
The operation itself has varying ground throughout the mine. There’s a lot of talc, dust and sediment in the water. The other pumps just burn out in those conditions. The mine superintendent took me down the hole and showed me the JetGuard pump, and told me about its performance, and I was blown away. I was amazed by how long it had been there without being changed out, especially considering the water that’s gone in there. I thought, well if it works there, it should work everywhere else, and I actively pursued that initiative.

The JetGuard Pump

What else impressed you about JetGuard? 
I was impressed by how it keeps the sediment in solution with the jets. That helps keep all the mud and the build-up away from the pump. We had been getting a crust build-up around the grill of all the Flygt pumps that caused their frequent failure. In contrast, the JetGuard grill is always clean because the jets agitate the water to keep the build-up elements in solution and out of the sump.

Data-Driven Analysis

PumpEng has a data-driven analysis of pump performance. How has that been for you?
Performance-wise, it’s been phenomenal.

Site Inspections

PumpEng base its recommendations on the site inspection and the operating conditions. Have they helped clarify anything about your site and your needs there?
Yes, we’ve had the PumpEng people coming out to see us and giving us useful feedback. That has been brilliant. They have been working closely with us. The feedback and positive approach are excellent.

Constant Improvement

PumpEng takes a constant improvement approach to the pump performance. Using an ongoing analysis of the data, they make quarterly adjustments. Do you think this has improved your operation overall?
Yes, I definitely do.

Mean Time Between Failure

The goal is to increase the mean time between failure of de-watering pumps. What evidence have you seen that that’s been achieved across the site?
We are seeing close attention to monitoring and improving pump performance. We see a willingness to problem-solve and provide excellent service to achieve improvements. It’s really a working partnership.

Reducing Costs

Have you seen evidence that maintenance costs are reduced?
Maintenance-wise, yes. I have seen a significant change in regard to costs, especially when compared to their competition. I’ve noticed that when we have to repair a PumpEng pump, it’s more to do with damage to the pump or pump cables rather than a failure of the pump itself.

Could you roughly estimate what the cost reduction would be?
Between $20k and $50k over a quarter.

Safety Improvement

Fewer pump failures keep maintenance crews out of the water.  Is that a factor that is important for you?
Yes, it certainly is because the fewer pump failures minimise the number of times that crews have to go into that environment. If they’ve got to go in there five times, to change the pump out five times, that’s five times they’re exposed to risks. Whereas if they have to go there once every month to change a pump out because somebody has hit the cable, well that speaks for itself. You’ve minimised interaction with vehicles.

The flow-on effect is phenomenal. If a pump breaks down, let’s take the face pump, if that breaks down, (a) you’ve got to get it out around the jumbo, (b)  you’ve got water coming down the jumbo. So now you’ve got extra support that you’ve got to provide.  You could lose up to two, or three hours of production, and that’s in a good scenario, let alone in a bad scenario.

Improved Production

Can you give a rough guess in percentage terms of how changing over to PumpEng pumps has improved your production?
I’m guessing, but I’d say it would be at least 12% improvement in production. Maybe it could be as high as 20%.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s not just about gold coming out, and it’s time lost due to other things. The improvement in our operation is incredible.

The PumpEng Way is about delivering value and increased profit. From what you’re saying, that’s been achieved?
It has. Yes.

A Good Day At Work

What feedback are you getting from the crews on-site? PumpEng is trying to get people to have a good day at work. What are you hearing back?
My project engineer is extremely happy. He does all the figures. The superintendents, they’re the ones who convinced me to pursue this in the first place and suggested a PumpEng site-wide trial. They were extremely happy with the longevity of the sump pumps.

If someone got in touch with you and said they were thinking of trying the PumpEng pumps on their site, what would you say to them?
I’d say, what’s taken you so long? I’ve got the utmost respect for PumpEng. They come out onsite and follow up on the details.  Service and support have been really good. You can buy a Rolls Royce, but if you can’t get it serviced, you’re stuck, aren’t you? We are very pleased with the quality of the pumps, the service level, and the value increased pump performance represents for our business.

View: JetGuard Website