The need for environmentally responsible and cost effective methods of ore and tailings transport places great demands on the mining industry. A growing number of companies are meeting the challenge by transporting the product in slurry pipelines.

Once mined, the ore is mixed with water and transported via the pipelines to the end destination, where it is processed. Such pipelines generally transport ore over very long distances. Typical materials that are transferred in such pipelines include coal, copper, iron, phosphates, and oil sands.

Transportation via pipelines has a great economic advantage over railroad transport and much less noise disturbance to the environment, particularly when in remote areas.

The challenge

The abrasive nature of the product can cause erosion within the pipeline, further increasing the risk of a leak or rupture. When implementing leak detection systems on slurry pipelines the challenges faced are far reaching. However, implementing a reliable leak detection system has helped mining companies feel safer in the knowledge that they are striving to keep their commitment to protect the environment.

Water can be injected between product batches and if injected over a long period of time the pipeline hydraulics change, therefore affecting the conditions that the leak detection system has to work within.

Furthermore, if the concentrate plant is at a very high altitude and it needs to be transported to a point lower in altitude, choke valves may need to be implemented to dissipate the pressure.

Atmos has a number of solutions available for slurry pipelines.


The team at Atmos can make recommendations on the most appropriate application for your business.

Atmos Pipe

Atmos Pipe is a statistical volume balance leak detection system. It uses the powerful Sequential Probability Ratio Test (SPRT) and pressure and flow analysis to optimize the leak detection.
The solution uses the corrected flow balance in conjunction with sophisticated statistical techniques to provide reliable and accurate leak detection and location. It has been proven on many pipelines that experience severe transients along with many other challenging scenarios.

At each new sample, the corrected flow difference is used to calculate the probability of a leak being present. The system identifies if the statistical mean of the corrected flow difference has increased compared to what is normal, then the probability of a leak will increase. If this increase in corrected flow difference persists for longer than the leak detection time, then a leak alarm will be generated.

Atmos Wave

Atmos Wave detects the rarefaction wave caused by a leak in a pipeline. When a leak occurs, the rarefaction wave travels in both directions along a pipeline. Using fast response pressure sensors, Atmos Wave filters the pressure signals to find those with the frequency and magnitude of a leak. The time at which the pressure signal reaches each pressure sensor is used to determine the location of the leak extremely accurately.

Atmos Wave detects the leak via the wave traveling through the fluid mixture.

Atmos Wave Flow

Atmos’ newest leak detection system (LDS) uses elements from both mass balance and rarefaction wave methods. The sophisticated system uses a multi-element model to reduce uncertainty and improve performance. This provides accurate leak detection and location in a significantly faster time.

Atmos Wave Flow combines leak detection methods for increased confidence across all leak types. Atmos Wave Flow differs from traditional mass balance LDS by the fact that, although both use flow meters to calculate possible leak and their properties, Atmos Wave Flow uses a sophisticated multi-element model to reduce the uncertainty in the system. The pipeline is split up into small segments, and the theoretical conditions for each segment are calculated. This allows the system to more accurately compensate for inventory and process changes in the pipeline. Three comprehensive algorithms filter out noise from pressure data into a detailed 3-dimensional map. The analogue pressure data is associated with a rarefaction wave created by an onset leak. This map allows the system to differentiate true leak events from the pressure changes caused by the transient operation. The result is a more responsive system and reduced uncertainty in the system.



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