Tag Archives: filter presses

Weir Minerals and Andritz expand tailings processing collaboration with IsoDry

Weir Minerals and Andritz have signed an agreement at MINExpo 2021 expanding their shared commitment and strategic cooperation to supply equipment for processing tailings in the mining industry.

The foundations of this agreement have been built on a shared understanding and vision to enable the sustainable and efficient delivery of the natural resources essential to create a better future for the world, they say.

Since 2018, Weir Minerals’ and Andritz’s partnership has seen them collaborate on joint tailings projects. This shared history as partners has reinforced their abiding belief that, together, both Weir Minerals and Andritz are stronger, they said.

This shared success has led both Weir Minerals and Andritz to renew their ongoing commitment and announce they’ll be expanding their offer to all regions around the globe.

Using Andritz’s proven separation and dewatering technologies, Weir Minerals says it has strengthened its whole-of-mine capabilities, showcasing market-leading products from extraction to comminution, mill circuit and tailings management.

“Weir Minerals has been providing tailings solutions for decades; we have dedicated research facilities – the Weir Technical Centre in Melbourne, Australia, and the Sustainable Mining Centre in Venlo, Netherlands – that are challenging conventional ways of thinking about tailings, while also developing practical, innovative and sustainable solutions that will reduce operating costs and improve safety,” Ricardo Garib, Weir Minerals Division President, said.

“Decreasing ore grades mean that mines are producing more tailings than ever before. One of the challenges with tailings management is that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach; each mine requires a tailored solution that carefully considers the minerals being processed, as well as the site’s climatic and geological conditions. Weir Minerals prides itself on having both the expertise and equipment that allows us to partner with miners everywhere to plan and implement tailings solutions based on their operations’ unique challenges and this agreement with Andritz enhances those capabilities,” he said.

Steve Huff, President Andritz Separation, said: “Andritz has a long history working across a range of different industries. We are very proud of the work we’ve done with Weir Minerals; together, we’re excited about continuing to provide a joint offering of sustainable and value-added tailings solutions. Both companies bring a different expertise and know-how to the partnership; we complement one another and ultimately, it’s our customers who’ll benefit.”

Tailings management forms an important element of Weir Minerals’ broader integrated solutions approach, which considers problems and challenges from all perspective and draws on a range of experts – process engineers, design engineers, product experts and materials scientists, among others – to identify potential challenges and opportunities and provide tailored solutions.

Charlie Stone, Weir Minerals VP Sales and Business Development-Mill Circuit, said: “This latest agreement enhances our overall tailings offering and enables us to provide our customers with a complete tailings solution. Under the brand name IsoDry, we will continue to offer customers a range of mechanical separation technologies, such as thickeners, filter presses, centrifuges, and vacuum belt filters.”

Weir Minerals has strengthened its tailings team to support the market and ensure that it can provide innovative solutions based on each customer’s specific requirements.

The agreement provides the opportunity for potential future collaboration on technology, harnessing Andritz’s separation technology in conjunction with Weir Minerals’ minerals and tailings processing technology. Many of these products – Warman® pumps to transport fluid tailings, GEHO® pumps to handle paste, Cavex® hydrocyclones to dewater tailings and the Multiflo® range of dewatering solutions – have been integral to helping miners manage their waste for generations, they said.

Weir Minerals and Andritz have also reiterated their shared commitment to sustainability; it is an essential part of both their business and corporate strategies. Both companies say they have outlined ambitious plans to reduce their carbon emissions, while their approach to ESG initiatives extends to all aspects of their organisations.

FLSmidth looks for sustainable gains with thyssenkrupp mining buy

The subtleties behind FLSmidth’s acquisition of thyssenkrupp’s mining business appear to have got lost within the financial community.

The company’s Denmark-listed shares, since announcing the transaction in late July, lost 16% of their value to August 20.

This downward move is hardly surprising when focusing on pure financials: FLSmidth is looking to acquire a company for an enterprise value of $325 million that is only expected to return to profitability two years after financial close.

Yet, this narrow train of thought discounts the well-timed strategy behind the move.

A combination of the two companies will undoubtedly create a leading global mining technology provider with operations from pit to plant. It will also see FLSmidth re-geared towards a mining sector on the up at a time when the cement business it serves is exhibiting flattish demand.

While this won’t be lost on analysts, most of them will only be able to factor in short-term profitability projections into their financial models, meaning, as far as they’re concerned, FLSmidth will be weighed down by the transaction until 2024.

Yet, for FLSmidth and mining, 2024 is practically ‘just around the corner’.

In FLSmidth’s recently released June quarter results it registered an order backlog of DKK16.7 billion ($2.6 billion), the majority of which was associated with mining orders. Of the backlog amount attributable to the mining sector, 16% would not be realised until 2023 and beyond.

This could mean many of the orders FLSmidth registered in the most recent June quarter will only be realised (read: delivered) in 2024, the year thyssenkrupp’s mining business is expected to be back in the black.

This is just one of the subtleties that may have got lost by shareholders fixated on the short term.

The second is how the transaction sets the company up as a mining sustainability leader at a time when the industry is calling out for one.

At the top end of the mining industry, the ability to decarbonise operations is becoming as – if not more – important as returning cash to shareholders. Every tonne of copper extracted and processed, and every ounce of gold mined and refined is likely to come with an associated carbon content/price in future years. The battery materials supply chain tied to the likes of lithium, cobalt and nickel will come under even more scrutiny.

Blockchain-type traceability platforms will mean investors and any interested party can interrogate where the raw materials came from and how they were produced.

These same miners will also be judged on how they use water, with freshwater use being rationalised in many regions where such resources are scarce.

FLSmidth, should the acquisition complete next year, is arming itself to compete in this brave new sustainable world.

The company started this journey all the way back in November 2019 when it announced its MissionZero program at its Capital Markets Day in Copenhagen.

Central to MissionZero is FLSmidth’s focus on enabling its customers in cement and mining to move towards zero emissions operations in 2030.

The OEM planned to do this by leveraging the development of digital and innovative solutions tied to sustainable productivity, offering its customers in the mining sector the technological solutions to manage zero emissions mining processes by 2030 – with a specific focus on water management.

For the latter, dry-stack tailings was the order of the day, with FLSmidth’s EcoTails® solution expected to reduce water costs, tailings dam risks and minimise environmental footprint. The development of the largest filter press plate ever built, the 5 m x 3 m AFP, was a signal of just how confident FLSmidth was on this emerging market trend becoming fully embedded across the globe.

Digital products such as SAGwise™, SmartCyclone™, BulkExpert™ and Advanced Process Control would, in the meantime, allow miners to become that more efficient with every resource (water, energy, etc) they used, again, improving their sustainability credentials.

Close to two years after making the MissionZero declaration, Thomas Schulz, CEO of FLSmidth, says the company has been seeing the program’s effects come through in its order book.

“Actually, this has been translated in orders for a few years already,” he told IM.

“When we look into sustainability, we define it as making productivity improvements. If you don’t adopt these sustainability solutions, you effectively have to pay more to keep operating at the same levels, or you have to stop operating – there is a productivity element to it, and quite a big one.

“For us, as a lifecycle provider, it is important that we offer to our customers at any point in time and any point of our offering, the right solution to make more money. That can be with dry-stacked tailings, tailings management, IPCC (in-pit crushing and conveying) systems, electrification of the pit, reducing emissions or dust, etc.”

Many of these solutions will enable companies to produce the same amount of product, or more, with the same input costs and energy draw, according to Schulz.

Coping with further restrictions on the industry’s access to freshwater will require more than step-change initiatives, and that is why the company is working on how its equipment can use “different types of water” and technologies that use less freshwater to ensure operations can abide by incoming legislation.

The company has been working on providing these zero-emission and resource-efficient solutions since 2019 to enable its customers to become sustainable operators by 2030.

“For many people, that sounds very long,” Schulz said. “In the mining industry, it’s not.”

Factor in the two-to-three years to build a pilot plant to prove such technology, two-to-three years to get a full-scale plant approved and the associated construction time, and a decade has passed.
Sustainability represents the ‘long game’ for mining OEMs, and technology is the key to achieving that sustainability, Schulz said.

Which brings us back to the thyssenkrupp mining business acquisition.

One of the big pillars

FLSmidth, in adding thyssenkrupp mining to its portfolio, is providing a whole host of decarbonised options for its mining customers to consider in their own sustainability drive.

It is adding mine planning expertise to its portfolio, ensuring that the IPCC and continuous surface mining technologies it puts forward are optimised for the operation at hand. These technologies are further complemented by semi-continuous and mobile crushing options from thyssenkrupp mining, adapted to the pit profile at hand.

Heavy-duty overland conveyors from thyssenkrupp mining complement other bulk handling solutions FLSmidth might be providing at stockyards or ports to reduce truck haulage and shift the transport dynamic to ‘green’ grid power.

“The culture in project service companies is you are the hero if you come to the table with the next big project,” Thomas Schulz says. “In product service companies, you are the hero if you come with the next big profit”

Then, when it comes to comminution, a crushing (including primary jaw crushers) and screening portfolio, plus smaller milling options and expertise in high pressure grinding rolls (HPGRs) through the globally renowned Polysius business, is bolted onto FLSmidth’s own crushing and grinding (including vertical roll milling technology) portfolio. This puts the combined offering up there with any global OEM around, while also providing the potential ‘dry grinding’ technologies the industry has been on the lookout for.

All these solutions come with sustainability benefits that can be felt throughout the mining value chain.

They also provide options and flexibility to an industry that cannot just suddenly retire a fleet of ultra-class haul trucks at a deep open-pit operation in favour of a fixed IPCC solution, or build a new process plant fitted with HPGRs to replace a typical SAG and ball mill grinding circuit.

Schulz said as much to IM.

“One of the big pillars of the whole acquisition lies in sustainability,” he said. “Normally, the process plants where we play big are all electrified, so if the energy resource coming into these plants is a green one, the process is already sustainable.

“When we look into the pit, in-pit crushing and transporting of material is where we can focus a lot.

“I’m not saying you can replace every truck, but some of the surface mines and the ones underground can be made significantly more continuous and sustainable from a transport perspective.

“thyssenkrupp is leading in that. They are quite big in the pit; we are quite big in the processing plant. Both, together, are complementary.

“If we can integrate the offering – and we will do – and make it more sustainable, that is a big step towards the 2030 MissionZero target.”

This increased spread of solutions will also provide FLSmidth with more opportunities to refine the entire flowsheet, providing further sustainability benefits to its customers.

“When we design solutions, or offer replacement equipment or a new process, we can now rely on expanded competences to look at what the best overall system for the entire flowsheet is,” Schulz said. “For instance, if we change the gyratory on a mine site and then look into the pit, we know how to size the equipment in the pit and the concentrator upstream.”

This increasing flowsheet focus must be complemented by an aftermarket approach that ensures the process remains efficient and sustainable throughout a product’s, solution’s or mine’s lifetime.

This was one of the obvious disparities between the two companies when the announcement was made in late July. It is also one of the biggest opportunities that comes with the planned transaction, according to FLSmidth.

Whereas capital business represented 37% of mining revenue in 2020 for FLSmidth, it was 66% of revenue for thyssenkrupp’s mining business. Services represented 63% and 34% of the two businesses’ 2020 revenue total, respectively.

Schulz has seen such a contrast – and opportunity – before, referencing his arrival at FLSmidth in 2013.

“When I came here to FLSmidth, it was actually quite similar,” he said. “I was at Sandvik for 16 years where the aftermarket was actually seen as the most important. They realised the importance of the customer relationship: the capital equipment sales team may meet the customer for a few hours per year, but the service technician has that interaction over weeks and months in terms of aftermarket.”

He also recognises the cultural shift needed to capture many of the profitable aftermarket dollars that the company is forecasting with the planned acquisition.

“The culture in project service companies is you are the hero if you come to the table with the next big project,” he said. “In product service companies, you are the hero if you come with the next big profit.

“You need both – we need profit, and our customers need profit to invest, while you need the projects to spur these aftermarket opportunities.

“We calculated what the aftermarket potential of the thyssenkrupp mining business is and understood it was not covered as they were all looking for the next big project, which we understand.

“But this is not what we will accept in the future. We have to have a strong aftermarket and strong customer link.”

Which all comes back to MissionZero.

“If you focus on MissionZero, then you invest there where you can impact MissionZero. Wherever you have aftermarket, you impact MissionZero. Where you don’t have aftermarket, you don’t impact MissionZero.”

At the same time, Schulz is not losing sight of the company’s end goal with all the business it coordinates in the mining sector.

“Whatever we do with the customer, they have to be more efficient, more productive and make more money.”

It just so happens that in doing this, the mining sector will become that much more sustainable.

ANDRITZ ups the filtration ante with new ME2500 filter press

ANDRITZ has introduced a new filter press, the ME2500, to complete its range of “proven” A4F and the SE series filter presses for the mining and minerals industry.

The ME2500 is the best-fit for fast processing of tailings (also with high clay content) or mining concentrates like iron, copper, lead or zinc, the company says. The new model has an hourly processing capacity of up to 450 kg/sq.m, a filtration area of up to 840 sq.m, and features chained plates for faster filter cake discharge. These attributes enable the highest throughputs without compromising on safety, while reflecting a customer focus on saving water, ANDRITZ says.

The innovative closure system on the ME2500 largely replaces hydraulic components with electrical ones and further reduces cycle times, thus increasing capacity and operating availability.

“The increased use of electrical components enables highly sustainable operation of the filter press by reducing the amount of hydraulic oil needed, as well as improving safety thanks to more precise control and less reliance on high-pressure lines that are susceptible to leaks,” the company said.

In addition, and to further optimise the productivity of single machines or plants with multiple filter presses, all modules of the ANDRITZ intelligent filter press – controlled by the Metris addIQ control system – are also available for the ME2500 filter press and can be provided with the full range of options. This draws on smart sensors, data analytics and augmented reality, including multiple sensors to allow for online safety monitoring of the plate package and moveable parts.

The company concluded: “The safe disposal of tailings generated by the mining and minerals sector is a significant cost factor for the industry. ANDRITZ is known for its innovative range of overhead and sidebar filter presses that meet the industry’s most stringent requirements with regard to fast cake discharge and saving water and costs. The maintenance-friendly equipment from ANDRITZ is easily upgradeable, with a modular design for customised process solutions.”

Jord International addresses pressing issues for BMA Caval Ridge

Jord International has recently taken up a challenge from BHP to come up with a safer solution to filter press maintenance at the Caval Ridge metallurgical coal mine, in Queensland, Australia, as part of the New South Wales-based company’s expanding remit to unlock new technologies for the wider mining industry.

The plant and systems designer, developer and service provider was awarded the project, part of BHP’s Supplier Innovation Program challenge, earlier this year. It has seen Jord design and construct the first concept prototype in tandem with the maintenance team at the mine.

The prototype comprised a belt cartridge installer within a self-contained steel frame that holds a new belt and removes the old, damaged belt. The first commercial belt installer is expected to be in use by July, according to BMA.

Craig Samuel, Jord’s Mechanical Engineer for Aftermarket and Reliability, said the filters the company worked with at BMA Caval Ridge are 3 m wide x 5 m long, with the product path through the filter around 14 m long. While the solution was designed for Caval Ridge specifically, he said it could have applications on any site or with any commodity using filter presses.

“The idea came from the understanding of how the filter belts are installed, and a cartridge-style installer just made sense considering Caval Ridge has a readily available crane to move the cartridge around,” Samuel told IM. “The mechanics of the installer required some out-of-the-box ideas to develop a continuously variable speed ratio between the new belt roll and the old belt roll.”

Samuel said he expected the belt change time to be cut in half with this new solution.

Jord has already applied for another BHP Supplier Innovation Program challenge that could leverage a dust management and cleaning innovation, but the company has also been investing in research and development to commercialise new minerals beneficiation technologies for more efficient and effective liberation of ore, according to Kevin Barber, Jord’s General Manager of Resources.

“Our goal is to unlock new technologies that provide step-change improvements to current processes in the industry,” he said of these new technologies. “It’s about using less energy, using less water and removing some of the environmental challenges with particular focus on tailings. We’re finding alternative ways of dealing with problematic ores and resources.”

Tenova TAKRAF proves dry stack tailings credentials at Uzbekistan gold mine

Tenova TAKRAF says it recently installed three DELKOR overhead filter presses at a gold mine’s processing plant in Uzbekistan as part of its wider tailings dewatering system.

The system comprises three DELKOR overhead filter presses each processing around 120 m3/h of gold tailings. Each machine contains 177 mixed membrane filter plates with a size of 2 m x 2 m, and includes a high-pressure cloth washing system.

These filter presses form an important part of Tenova TAKRAF’s complete Dry Stack Tailings (DST) technologies solution, which covers processes from sedimentation to filtration and material handling, the company said.

The supply also included several pieces of ancillary equipment, including belt conveyors for cakes discharged from the filter press (each machine is equipped with a cake breaker), pumping skids for membrane inflation, filter cake washing pumps and high-pressure cloth washing pumps.

“The entire scope of supply, including the slurry feed pumps, is fully controlled and managed by state-of-the-art software,” the company said.

It added: “The complexity of the dewatering process required by this project clearly highlights DELKOR’s filter press potential across the dewatering spectrum. In fact, the filter press cycle includes filter cake squeezing, filter cake washing and filter cake air blowing, with the filter cakes washed with process water in order to remove unwanted residual cyanides from the dewatered cakes.

“Importantly, the required residual moisture content within the dewatered cakes was achieved immediately during start-up.”

Marco Zeni, Tenova DELKOR Project Manager, said: “Notwithstanding demanding site conditions, installation and commissioning, together with the required operational training, was successfully completed. With this project, we take another important step towards firmly establishing DELKOR also as a provider of filter presses to round up the filtration product portfolio and once again demonstrating that: it pays to talk to a specialist.”

Weir Minerals Africa optimising pump performance for filter presses

With mining companies focused on reducing and recycling as much water as possible while recovering valuable minerals and metals, filter presses are becoming a much more common sight in the concentration process.

Weir Minerals Africa says these “mission-critical” filter presses demand a carefully selected pump to ensure optimal performance and uptime.

Marnus Koorts, Product Manager for Slurry Pumps at Weir Minerals Africa, says the high pressures associated with operating a filter press often lead the pump to underperform.

“The operation of a filter press involves a wide spectrum of pressure and flow conditions within each cycle,” Koorts says. “This ranges from high-flow, low-pressure conditions when slurry is initially being pumped into the press, to low-flow and high pressure when full.”

He emphasises it is not enough to simply specify a pump for the average of this range of conditions. Rather, it is vital to establish the minimum and maximum values on the spectrum, and to specify accordingly.

“Filter presses in the market can demand pressures of up to 45 bar,” he says. “In many cases, therefore, the application requires high-pressure pumps such as the Warman AHPP high pressure range.” These pumps offer multi-stage high pressure operation to 1,000 psi and are used in slurry transportation and tailings management operations.

Koorts continued: “Where lower pressure requirements are present, the newer technology of the Warman WBH could be used as it is generally a more efficient pump with longer wear life of spare parts.” The Warman WBH pumps, also used in slurry transportation and tailings management applications, come with a wide variety of impellers and shaft seals and maintains efficiency through ‘one point adjustment’ during the wear cycle, according to Weir.

Failure of pumps to deliver enough pressure to a filter press results in the solid-liquid separation process being inefficient, according to Weir, with the selection of the right pump an important starting point in ensuring optimal operation.

The next key aspect of the customer’s selection, Koorts says, is the choice of sealing arrangement. This aspect of the pump can often lead to issues in the plant, when valuable product is lost through leakage.

“An expeller seal is not usually recommended, as the pressure it generates to seal the pump is generally not sufficient in a filter press application,” he said.

Weir said: “The stuffing box option can be used under certain conditions. However, the pressure of the surface water needs to be higher than the pressure inside the pump. This means that it would usually be suitable on a low-pressure pump for a low-pressure filter press.”

Koorts added: “When the filter press requires a higher pressure, then the plant will have to provide a water line with a higher pressure to feed the gland, or it will not seal properly.”

The preferred sealing option is a mechanical seal for these applications. While this is more costly, it offers substantial savings by preventing product being lost and downtime being incurred, according to Weir.

A further consideration is the level of corrosive aspects of trace elements in the slurry. This can lead to rapid corrosion of mild steel pumps. This is why many applications require stainless steel options.

Comprehensive technical backup needs to underpin each step in this process, Koorts said. For Weir Minerals Africa, this begins with its local manufacturing process, which includes foundries for casting components, through to local componentry manufacture and assembly capability.

“This quality control and capacity feeds into our spares availability and service exchanges for refurbished pumps,” he says. “The result is quick supply through our strategically located branch network with 12 offices in South Africa and eight through the rest of Africa.”