Turbine Flowmeters: In the trillion-dollar mining industry, accurate accounting of diesel fuel is essential
July 11, 2003
Mining around the world for minerals – from coal to diamonds – is an enormous industry with annual sales in remote locations, miles from the nearest conventional sources of power. Mining operations also entail the bulk movement of earth and minerals on a massive scale. In the vast majority of these operations, electrical power is generated on-site via diesel engine driven generators and/or steam driven generators.
Diesel fuel can only be brought into the mining sites in bulk at specific times of year. Mines located in the polar or near-polar regions can only bring in fuel when the ground is frozen to the point that the soil will support the weight of the transport trucks. However, the transportation cycle must be completed prior to the full onslaught of winter conditions that make such transport overland extremely hazardous if not impossible. Diesel fuel is also a hazardous material in terms of accidental release into the environment and is often regulated as such by local jurisdictions.
For all these reasons, the accurate accounting of diesel fuel received, dispensed and consumed at a remote mining site is of extreme importance to the proper operation of the mine.
Hoffer Flow Control''s turbine flowmeters were used recently at one of the largest gold and diamond mining sites in the world to address this issue. Located in the Northwest Territories of Canada, the site includes its own diesel fuel fired power and steam generation plant, and employs in excess of 200 pieces of diesel powered mobile mining equipment.
While working on the initial application, additional requirements for measuring diesel fuel were discovered. The applications included fuel being received on-site and transferred from bulk storage facilities to individual points of use in the power generation plant and a second application at dispensing points for fueling the mobile equipment.These applications were all ideal matches for the turbine flowmeters. To date, there are 25 turbine meters installed at the site.
Turbine flowmeters are installed on all bulk fuel receiving lines. The receiving lines are equipped with air eliminators. These meters are used to verify the actual fuel received from the tanker trucks. Two main distribution lines from a tank farm feed fuel to various secondary tanks that are located at various stations in the mine. The turbines are installed on these two distribution lines, which allows the mine to track their main fuel inventory (fuel received versus fuel transferred).
Each of the secondary distribution lines is equipped with a turbine flowmeter. These include heavy equipment refueling stations, along with boiler fuel consumption applications in the powerhouse. These flowmeters allow the mine to track the fuel each department uses. The flowmeters were calibrated for the average viscosity of P40 diesel fuel oil at 15 degrees C.
The arctic has a very fragile ecosystem, as such, the mining company is very sensitive of this fact and has installed insertion turbine flowmeters on various fuel lines to indicate fuel leakage or valve malfunction. These flowmeters are interlocked with their existing automation system.
Insertion turbine flowmeters are also used to dewater lakes, where the meters measure the volume of water pumped from the lake. There is also a requirement set by the environmental authorities.
A requirement at the site is for all fuel systems to be corrected to 15 degrees C to match the correction on incoming fuel deliveries. This necessitated electronic flow computers to perform these corrections which Hoffer was able to supply. The flow computers were integrated, with additional equipment, to provide data acquisition and printing capabilities. Flow computers provided CSA and Canadian Weights and Measures approvals.
For more information, contact Hoffer Flow Controls, Inc., at 800-628-4584, or visit www.hofferflow.com.