In June, 2012, Gippsland in Eastern Victoria faced some of the worst floods in recent memory. On June 6, the Morwell River dramatically burst its banks, sending floodwaters into the Yallourn open cut coal mine, damaging a coal conveyor and slowing production, then two weeks later, the mine flooded again, further affecting production – and threatening Victoria’s power supply.
The mine is Australia’s second largest open cut mine and is adjacent to the Yallourn power station, where it provides continuous source of fuel for generation at the Yallourn Power Station, which is responsible for nearly 22% of Victoria’s electricity consumption.
The power station owner, TRU Energy, now know as Energy Australia, had to mobilise fast to clear the water out of the mine and maintain a reliable electricity supply.
TRU Energy secured environmental approval from the EPA and quickly set to work to divert the Morwell River through 3.5 kilometres of pipe into the LaTrobe River.
But the first order of business was getting the water out of the mine at a faster rate than it was coming in. Dewatering pumps were installed at the bottom of the mine to pump the water out. The set-up required a large number of dewatering pumps and Coates Hire, Kennards Hire, Link Pumps and Bridge Pumps were all able to quickly supply what was needed.
Before a large diameter pipeline could be installed, TRUEnergy urgently needed a fast solution to carry the water out of the mines – that solution was layflat hose, and they needed a lot of it and quickly.
Fortunately Crusader Hose, one of the world’s leading suppliers of layflat hose, manufactures their entire product range locally in Melbourne. The team at Crusader were able to swing quickly into action, delivering the required product. Layflat hose has the advantage of being able to be deployed very quickly and in next to no time was carrying the water out of the mines. Layflat hose is able to successfully pump at 10 bar operating pressures without problems.
In all, Crusader supplied 4800m of 8″ Heavy duty layflat hose, safely getting the dewatering operation through its first two months by which time TRU Energy had a large 1.60m diameter, 3.5 km long pipeline, supplied by Resource Equipment Ltd (REL), installed.
Commenting on the works in July 2012, TRUEnergy Group Executive Manager Operations and Construction, Michael Hutchinson, said “The partial diversion of the Morwell River is a major milestone in our recovery work. This work, combined with reduced rainfall and river flow, has meant we are now able to pump more water from the mine than what is coming in. While the flows will remain dependent on the weather, this is a fantastic achievement.”
At this stage, they were able to get the required flows through the large pipeline and the layflat was decommissioned.
“It’s been an extraordinary effort by the workers who, despite facing some cold and wet conditions, have been committed to restoring the mine and power station to full capacity” said Michael Hutchison.
With its work done, the Crusader layflat hose was rewound and it is able to be redeployed again.
In commenting on the success of the dewatering project, the Managing Director of Crusader Hose, Mr Francois Steverlynck said “We understood the challenge of the mine to get back into operational capability and hence mobilised our entire factory staff to assemble couplings onto all the layflat hose. We used a very secure wire whipping method to ensure that the couplings would not blow off and to the credit of all staff, not one did!”
This quick response to the emergency mine dewatering ensured that Victoria’s electricity supply was maintained and shows the benefits that local manufacturers can provide in an emergency.