WIRTH Builds World’s Largest Diaphragm Pump


With the biggest order on pumps ever placed in the company's history, the WIRTH Group continues its walk of success. Inco Australia Management Pty. Ltd. of Brisbane, Australia placed an order with WIRTH for nine piston diaphragm pumps for the Goro Nickel Project in New Caledonia.

WIRTH Builds World’s Largest Diaphragm Pump

The total order value including spare parts and consumables as well as commissioning amounts to about 15.0 Mio €.

The first pumps now are ready for delivery. The order awarded to WIRTH includes the construction, delivery and later assembly and commissioning of the pumps in New Caledonia (about 1000 km east of Australia).

After preparatory work of six years and the erection of a pilot plant at a price of approximately 50 Mio US $, Inco Limited Toronto, Canada, decided to build a new nickel plant in New Caledonia in May 2001. The total investment for the new plant amounts to 1,4 billion US $.

Between August 2001 and January 2002, BTH ran a qualification phase for the pumps finally admitting only two bidders for the project worldwide. Finally, BTH recommended WIRTH to customer Inco Australia Management PTY. Ltd. as supplier for the pumps. Inco followed this recommendation by awarding WIRTH the order in June.

The scope of supply of WIRTH comprises six type DPM 1250 Hot Slurry Duplex Piston Diaphragm Pumps and three type DPM 1250 Pipeline Pumps. Every pump has a discharge flow of 720 m3/h, 85 bar pressure and a motor capacity of 1900 kW. The pump’s total weight amounts to 80.000 kgs including motor. This implies the world’s largest pumps ever built.

Two hot slurry diaphragm pumps each feed a reactor with nickel laterite slurry. The slurry has a temperature of 130° C/266° F. The core problem of these applications is that the slurry may not cool down but requires to be fed into the reactor at 130° C and a pressure of 130 bar. On the other hand, the diaphragm cannot cope with these temperatures. In a cooling line especially developed for hot slurries, this agent is cooled down in a way to provide only max. 80° C at the diaphragm, but the agent is not cooled down for the process itself.

This technique was applied successfully by WIRTH for the first time in 1997 for the Cawse Nickel Project. Three diaphragm pumps convey tailings through a pipeline to the refuse dump. Except with regard to the cooling line and the material used, pumps are identical for both applications. This solution provides an essential advantage to the customer in spare parts management. The order awarded to WIRTH includes engineering, manufacture, supply and assembly / commissioning of the pumps in New Caledonia.

This order is already the second large order awarded to WIRTH this year on the slurry pump sector from Brisbane, Australia. On 31 January 2002, WIRTH booked an order for six Piston Diaphragm Pumps for the Comalco Alumina Project, stage 1. Here, the order value amounts to about 8.5 Mio €. Bechtel, the largest engineering company worldwide proposed WIRTH as pump supplier to the customer Comalco, for this project as well.

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