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Yelomine PVC pipe joint.

The Yelomine restrained-joint PVC pipe system from North American SpecialtyProducts (NASP) has proved to be an effective solution to a problem at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold’s heap-leach mining operation at the El Abra copper mine in northern Chile, where the Sulfolix project is expected to extend the mine’s useful life by 10 years.

Relix Water, a Chilean engineering and systems integration company that specializes in heap-leaching lixiviation processes, recommended that Freeport-McMoRan switch from HDPE pipe to 16-in. Yelo-mine restrained-joint PVC pipe to simplify and speed up pipe installation. By using Yelomine, Relix was able to increase the installation rate from 164 ft (50 m) to 1,640 ft (500 m) of pipe per day.

“Working with a durable, non-corrosive pipe product in the Sulfolix project that we could install quickly is of great importance,” said Marcelo Lago, sales manager for Relix. “With the Yelomine system, our crews were able to assemble pipe joints quickly and manually, which helped us to install significantly more pipe in one day than with thermofusion. We’re very pleased with the results.”

“Sulfolix is the third heap-leach mining project that we have done with Relix in Chile,” said J.D. Stephenson, business development manager for NASP. “There is ample growth potential for heap-leach mining throughout South America, and we’re excited to provide them with restrained-joint PVC pipe solutions for future projects.”