Water Journal : Water Journal April 2013
WATER APRIL 2013 46 Feature Article and hygienic. This type of diving is not only utilised by mining companies, but is also used extensively by water boards across Australia as part of their routine maintenance programs. Diving in process and production water assets usually involves dredging of storage dams and reservoirs, inspection and maintenance of submerged equipment, non-destructive testing, anode maintenance, leak detection and aquatic plant removal. The task of mobilising a commercial dive team to a mine site requires compliance with a broad range of legal and statutory requirements, applicable to both the mining and commercial diving industries. A diving company needs to be fully aware of mine site speci cations for equipment and staff training requirements, and must carry current service and test certi cates for all equipment used. Dive teams should include personnel with experience and training certi cations in rst aid, diving medicine, working at heights, underwater inspection, non-destructive testing, rigging and dogging. DUST SUPPRESSION On many mine sites water is indispensable for dust suppression. A hot, dry and dusty environment can make for hazardous work conditions. Fire and dust suppression systems are crucial for ensuring a safe working environment. Water for dust suppression systems is typically stored in large open-air reservoirs or tanks and is distributed by water trucks onto haul roads, or wherever needed. Open-air reservoirs can be subject to excessive aquatic plant growth, sedimentation and loss of water through leaks, all diminishing the water storing capacity of the reservoir and the volume of water available for dust suppression. Suitably experienced commercial dive teams are able to effectively maintain re and dust suppression systems while keeping them operational. This means no disruptions to regular operations, as the suppression systems are still functional while divers are working on them. With thoughtful planning, both re and dust suppression reservoirs can be cleaned using divers, reducing the costs of maintenance and eliminating down time on the asset. Dive teams are able to clean the water storage reservoir or tank using a specialised vacuum dredge to pump aquatic plants and silt out of the reservoir. This organic waste matter can either be pumped to on-site handling facilities, or de-watered using specialised equipment. After cleaning, reservoirs and tanks can be inspected and checked for leaks by divers more easily, as water visibility is improved dramatically. With systematic leak detection by experienced divers, holes in reservoirs and tanks can be located and permanently repaired to stop loss of precious water. A well-prepared commercial dive team will be equipped to operate in the most remote and extreme conditions, with a range of systems to cope with diverse conditions. "Often we are operating in very remote environments," says Antony Old. "We have custom built several dive spreads into air-conditioned trucks, some with 4-wheel drive capability, in order to properly service our remote mining clients. There are plenty of logistics to consider and the smallest oversight can result in several days of downtime -- dive teams must be self- suf cient, well-equipped and carry spares for almost everything." With some of the world's largest mining companies shifting their operations towards the use of commercial divers, this sector of the industry looks set for rapid growth. While it may seem unorthodox, the use of commercial divers in mining is just another example of how the water industry is using progressive thinking to solve traditional problems in new ways. WJ Antony Old (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) is Contracts Manager at Fremantle Commercial Diving. Antony has worked in the commercial diving industry for over a decade, with years of hands-on experience as a commercial diver and dive supervisor. Antony now spends the majority of his time designing and adapting diving systems to be durable and reliable as well as consulting with mining clients about how best to meet their water infrastructure challenges. Good commercial dive teams will arrive at mine sites fully equipped to dive in a range of water storage assets.
Water Journal February 2013
Water Journal May 2013