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Jun 17, 2016

Increasing pump wear life and saving water at Itaminas iron ore mine

Itaminas, one of Brazil’s largest iron ore mines, achieved three times the wear life over conventional pumps and cut back considerably on the use of water by selecting Metso to install slurry pumps with expeller gland seal technology.
Itaminas mine in Sarzedo

Iron ore is one of the world’s most commonly used metals. It is the key ingredient for almost 95% of all metals produced globally per year. 

In Brazil, the world’s third largest producer of iron ore, the Itaminas mine in Sarzedo, in the state of Minas Gerais, produced 7.5 million tons of iron ore in 2014, making it the second largest supplier of pig iron in the country. 

High parts wear leads to new solution 

The Itaminas company operates 24/7 and manufactures sinter feed, pellet feed and hematite iron ore, which requires a continuous and flawless operation. 

The process begins with the concentrator and then moves to the magnetic separator, cyclone, product stalls and finally on to the tailings tank. The ore is then pumped to the tailings dam via a pumping system comprising of five stations. Each station is equipped with three pumps, two in operation and one built as a standby unit. 

As the iron ore at the Sarzedo location has a density of 1.85 kg/m3, the previously installed pumps had very high wear due to the abrasiveness of the material being pumped. Therefore, those pumps were not suitable for the specific duty.

The pumps only had a parts lifetime of approximately three months. In addition, labor to maintain these pumps was expensive and complex. Therefore, Itaminas chose Metso’s pumps with the goal of decreasing the company’s maintenance downtime and increasing production.

Expeller gland seal decreases maintenance 

Audrei Moron with Esley Cardoso at Itaminas iron ore mine
Audrei Moron with Esley Cardoso at Itaminas iron ore mine

Experts from Metso installed the Orion HM series pumps fitted with an expeller gland seal, which operates without the use of gland sealing water. This pump is also fitted with high chrome wet-end spare parts, which are highly recommended when pumping very abrasive slurry material.

“Maintenance is much simpler and less frequent now,” says Esley Cardoso, Itaminas’s operational supervisor. “The tailings pumping system has been working for more than two years now without any failures.” 

 75% less maintenance; water savings up 

After the installation of the Orion HM series pumps, Itaminas has been able to reduce maintenance of the pumps by 75%. Plus, since the implementation of the Metso expeller gland sealing technology, the mine is saving over 6 billion liters of water.

“As water availability is extremely scarce at the mine, by being able to eliminate the use of gland sealing water, the mine has greatly reduced its costs thanks to the new technology,” explains Guilherme Almeida, Metso Technical Support.

To improve customer service and guarantee the shortest possible shutdown times, Metso also provided a consignment of stock parts and components to Itaminas. “They only pay for the parts they use. With the maintenance workload reduced, Itaminas can direct the team members to other tasks,” mentions André Rizzotti, Metso Sales Engineer.

Stock program reduces unplanned downtime 

The stock program involves a monthly stock evaluation and unit count. Monitoring and suggestions for improvements from the Metso experts help Itaminas to secure flawless operations. 

Metso uses its knowledge and experience from other similar types of installations to give recommendations that can help make a difference for Itaminas. Not only has this arrangement reduced costs for the mine, it has additionally provided the company with immediate access to parts whenever needed. This reduces unplanned downtime and ultimately leads to maximized production. 

In total, Itaminas has installed over 70 Metso pumps at its mine, making it one of Metso’s largest installed bases in Brazil.  


Increasing pump wear life and saving water at Itaminas

TEXT: Audrei Moron
PHOTOS: Audrei Moron and Shutterstock


*Metso Outotec was formed July 1, 2020 when Metso and Outotec merged into one company. This case study has been written prior to the merger under the old company name.


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