The copper mining industry in northern Chile requires transporting large amounts of water over miles of pipeline. The water, used in the ore refining process and slurry pipelines, is sourced from basins in the Andes mountains. If not considered in the design of the pipeline, this water contains corrosive elements which can cause the pipeline to prematurely corrode.
The design for the Monturaqui project for Minera Escondida required a pipeline of nearly 8,000 joints of internally and externally coated steel pipe. The interior was coated with fusion bonded epoxy and the exterior was coated with three-layer polyethylene. We completed 7,735 internally coated field joint welds of 16-inch through 42-inch diameter pipe. The majority of the coating production (6,999 joints) was for 36-inch and 42-inch pipelines.
The full-length joints were coated in permanent coating plants in the USA and in Brazil near the pipe manufacturing facility. Production utilizing our remote control robot and real-time video feedback averaged 64 welds per day with rates as high as 183 per day, even while navigating steep slopes and difficult terrain. The result of the coating process was an internally coated pipeline with corrosion protection from end to end.