Tag Archives: First Quantum

Metso wins major flotation cell order from First Quantum for Kansanshi S3 expansion

Canada-based First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has placed an additional order with Metso for the delivery of minerals processing equipment to its Kansanshi copper mine S3 expansion.

Metso’s scope of delivery includes apron feeders, Nordberg® MP800™ cone crushers, TankCell® e630 and TankCell® e300 mechanical flotation cells, high-intensity Concorde Cell™ units, ColumnCell™ units, HRT thickeners and a clarifier.

Most of the separation equipment are part of Metso’s Planet Positive offering.

Last year, Metso was awarded an order for two Premier™ grinding mills, with a total installed power of 50 MW, including Metso Megaliner™ and metallic mill linings for the expansion.

The First Quantum Minerals Ltd Board of Directors signed off on the S3 Expansion last year, bankrolling a project that could see Kansanshi’s life pushed out to 2044. Once the expansion is completed, copper production from Kansanshi is expected to average approximately 250,000 t/y for the remaining life of mine.

Metso says the value of the order exceeds €20 million ($21. 8 million).

Antti Rinne, Vice President, Flotation at Metso, said: “Kansanshi’s flotation flowsheet combines the well-proven, energy efficient TankCell flotation cells with the new Concorde Cell, unlocking the potential for further improved flotation performance. Concorde Cell high-intensity, forced-air pneumatic flotation cells allow operations to enhance fine and ultrafine particle selectivity.”

First Quantum improves Kansanshi mine reliability with Accelovant fibre-optic sensors

Kansanshi Mining, a First Quantum-owned company located in Zambia, is leveraging Accelovant’s fibre-optic sensors to solve its arcing and electronics failure and signaling issues at the major copper mine.

Kansanshi operates one of the world’s largest and most productive copper mining and smelting sites. The smelting operations use wet electrostatic precipitators (ESP) to clean sulphur dioxide gas by removing acid mist (aerosols) and dust particles that can result in a toxic concentrated sulphuric acid effluent. While ESPs are considered one of the most effective process scrubbers in this application, process temperature control has long been an impediment to more extensive use. Control of the ESP requires temperature measurement technology that can withstand simultaneously high voltage, high temperature range, and high electromagnetic fields.

In application, the wet ESP utilises high-voltage electromagnetic fields to attract or impel different molecules in a gas stream to affect separation and collection. It has one field consisting of discharge electrodes in the centre of tubular collecting electrodes. The gas is ionised by the corona discharge of the discharge electrodes. The particles contained in the gas are charged and migrate under the influence of the electrostatic field to the grounded electrodes.

In the case of the Kansanshi copper smelter, the sulphur dioxide gas from the smelter is moved through the wet ESP plants to separate the acid mist and dust from the gas stream. The acid mist is highly corrosive and, if not removed from the gas, it is capable of damaging downstream equipment such as gas blowers and ductwork.

To operate correctly and prevent damage to the electrical and ceramic components of the wet ESP, it must be heated to a consistent temperature between 325-340°C. Operating in this range will prevent condensation of the mist. If condensation occurs, it substantially increases the risk of short circuiting that can lead to poor unit performance.

Historically the ESPs employed conventional in-stream thermocouples and/or Resistance Temperature Detectors (RTD), both highly susceptible to electrical noise. When employed, these sensors were unreliable and represented a flashover risk due to the high voltage environment.

Pieter Oosthuizen, Control Instrumentation Superintendent, and Bodrick Mumba, Superintendent Operations Sulphuric Acid Plant, both work to maintain consistent and reliable operation of the smelting plant and ESPs. The ESPs operate around the clock in paired sets, processing a constant stream of smelter gas.

According to Mumba, if one ESP is operating outside of the proper temperature range, the volume of smelter gas has to be reduced by cutting down concentrate treatment in the primary smelting furnace until the unit is returned to proper operating status.

“If the temperature drops below the setpoint there is great risk of acid misting and condensing on the ceramic insulators in the ESP,” Mumba said. “If the ceramics are damaged, potential downtime to repair would certainly reduce throughput and output of the plant.”

Maintaining proper temperature control in an extremely harsh environment

In a harsh operating environment surrounding the wet ESPs (high voltage, electrical noise and high temperature), monitoring and managing precise temperature levels through the use of in-stream sensors was a difficult and highly unpredictable exercise. The ESP units supplied by Metso Outotec are designed to allow the use of multiple different sensors that conform to a standardised form factor, enabling the operator to install the most effective sensor for the use case.

“The ESP units operate with a typical 45 kV charge atcurrents in the 500-600 milliamp range,” Oosthuizen said. “In this kind of environment, there is tremendous electromagnetic noise and induced currents in anything that is conductive or that utilises electronics. This includes the thermocouples and RTDs that are typically employed to monitor high temperatures in industrial settings. We tried many different device types, but in all cases the electronics would burn out and fail due to the stray electromagnetic fields.”

Oosthuizen noted that in the smelting plant environment, both RTD and thermocouple devices were subject to high-voltage flashovers which can damage them, or, at a minimum, disrupt the transmitted electrical signals from the sensor to its controller. Such plant conditions contribute to high sensor failure rates, and difficulty in maintaining signals essentially prevented automated control.

An Accelovant fibre-optic sensor

Operating under manual control was more costly, and meant operators had to make regular temperature readings and adjust operational parameters to maintain the proper range. In a complex operating environment with many variables, making these adjustments manually was an ongoing process that consumed substantial personnel time and cost.

The high failure rate of sensors and inability to utilise automated controls were limiting factors in maintaining the reliable and consistent operation of the ESPs and of the productivity of the entire plant. In their search for a workable solution, Mumba and Oosthuizen learned that fibre-optic temperature sensors were widely employed in harsh environments due to their immunity to electrical noise.

“As we researched fibre-optic sensors, it became clear that the inherent immunity to electrical noise could solve our arcing and electronics failure and signaling issues, but we also needed to address the high-temperature operating conditions,” Oosthuizen said. “While operating specifications for most fiber-optic sensor suppliers on the market did extend up to the 325-340° C range, our requirements were toward the top end of the recommended range, so we were a bit apprehensive about product in-service longevity. That’s when we discovered a Canadian supplier that specialised in high temperature fibre-optic sensors.”

The team found a new class of fibre-optic sensors from Canadian manufacturer Accelovant that seemed to address both of the key issues they were trying to solve.

A new class of fibre-optic sensors

Fibre-optic sensors use only the energy of light to measure temperature. Because they contain no electrical function, they are immune to the adverse electromagnetic affects inherent in conventional sensors such as thermocouples and RTDs. While currently employed widely in industrial applications, they are generally limited to 250˚C. Above that temperature, the organophosphorus compounds used to generate the temperature measurement optical signal will begin to fail.

“Accelovant specialises in high temperature fiber optic sensors,” Michael Goldstein, CEO for Accelovant, said. “We went back to the basics of material science and invented a patented ceramic-like optical material to create a new class of fibre-optic temperature sensors that could withstand much higher temperatures and offer longer service life at temperatures exceeding 450°C.”

In April 2022, Accelovant fibre-optic sensors were installed in one of the matched pairs of ESPs operating in the plant. Shortly after installation, Oosthuizen was ready to experiment with utilising the automated controls available in the plant management software.

“We knew that, in theory, the fibre-optic sensors would outperform the electronic sensors, but wanted to be certain that it was also the case in practice,” he said. “After several months of observation and testing, we converted to operating the temperature controls on those two ESP to automatic – for the first time in more than eight years of operation.“

Accelovant fibre-optic sensors delivered the high-temperature longevity and electromagnetic immunity necessary to provide reliable and consistent temperature monitoring and control within the wet ESP copper smelting operations at Kansanshi, the company said.

Oosthuizen reports that after 11 months in service, the Accelovant fibre-optic sensors were performing as demanded and enabled full automated control of the ESPs. “In the years that the ESPs have been in operation, we have never been able to operate without a sensor failing for such a lengthy period,” he noted.

The stability of the Accelovant sensors has finally allowed for automated management of stream temperatures and eliminated some of the operational challenges at the plant.

Mumba added: “The Accelovant sensors have increased our efficiencies by eliminating manual temperature adjustment – a process that could take multiple iterations to achieve the desired results. They provide reliability that allows us to concentrate our time on other matters.”

Eldorado Gold’s Efemçukuru mine to test Normet battery-electric vehicle

Eldorado Gold’s underground mining battery-electric vehicle journey is set to begin next month, with the company imminently awaiting the arrival of a Normet SmartDrive concrete transportation vehicle at its Efemçukuru gold mine.

The company has reviewed the potential for the use of battery-electric vehicles at its Lamaque underground gold mine in Canada in the past, but this is the first official trial of zero emission mobile equipment the company will conduct. This aligns with the company’s recently announced target of mitigating GHG emissions by 30%, from 2020 levels, by 2030 on a ‘business as usual’ basis; equal to approximately 65,000 t of carbon dioxide equivalent. To achieve this target Eldorado is focused on pursuing decarbonisation through four key pathways including: measuring and monitoring; operational efficiencies and continuous improvement; technologies, processes and energy generation; and energy procurement and strategy.

Set to arrive at the mine, in Izmir Province, western Turkey, at the end of the month, the Normet Utimec MF 500 SD transmixer will be tested in a combination of ramp and flat drifts over the latter part of April.

Efemçukuru, a high-grade epithermal deposit, will provide a good test for the machine. While reasonably shallow in terms of depth, the narrow-vein mine has four declines (SOS, MOS, NOS and KBNW), each covering approximately 400 m of strike extent. These declines have 15% inclination, while flat drifts with inclinations ranging from 0-5% will provide a good platform for overall speed.

A spokesperson for the gold miner told IM that the machine, which has already been purchased, will be tested against assumptions provided by the manufacturer for rates of charging and discharging. The machine is then intended to be used in an operational capacity.

“Battery charging rates will be tested for charging from the existing grid, from a quick charging station and from downhill braking,” the team leading the project said. “Moreover, the battery usage rate will be tested for driving in uphill (15%) and flat (0-5%) galleries, against assumptions.”

Testing will also involve the comparison of performance of both battery-electric and diesel machines in uphill tramming, with the company expecting the battery-electric transmixer to outperform the diesel-equivalent in these head-to-head tests due to the machine’s high torque.

The Utimec MF 500 Transmixer SD (pictured here at Normet’s outdoor test track at its Iisalmi factory) has a 4.4 cu.m concrete carrying capacity, and comes with a combined power rating of 200 kW alongside a maximum tramming speed of 20 km/h.

Normet says the machine is designed for fast and safe concrete transportation in underground mines and tunnels where the tramming height is at least 2.4 m. The concrete drum rotation is electrically controlled and the speed ranges between 0-13 rpm.

Tested at both the Normet factory and the First Quantum polymetallic Pyhäsalmi mine in Finland, the MF Transmixer 500 SD has displayed a payback period of 2-3 years based on the machine completing a two-hour cycle that involves a 3 km journey on a 1:7 decline running at 15 km/h with the bowl rotating, one hour of unloading with the bowl rotating at 15 kW, and an uphill unloaded haul of 3 km at 10 km/h with no bowl rotation.

Eldorado said the MF Transmixer 500 SD will be at the mine site shortly, with training coordinated by Normet taking place in April ahead of the trial.

MACA exits Brazil, prepares for more FQM Ravensthorpe work

Contract miner, MACA Ltd, says it will cease operations in Brazil, effective January 2020, following the early termination of a contract at the Antas copper mine.

The contract, due to conclude in 2020, was with AVB Mineracao Ltda, a subsidiary of OZ Minerals, which announced back in mid-2019 that it planned to close the Antas open pit (pictured) in 2021. The reduction in the work in hand (WIH) position as a result of the early termination will be around A$8 million ($5.5 million), the company said.

At the same time as announcing this news, MACA said its mining division had received a letter of intent (LOI) from First Quantum Minerals to carry out works at the Tamarine limestone quarry, in Western Australia, including mining, crushing and screening of limestone over a three-year period. This contract was worth around A$20 million over that timeframe, MACA said.

The LOI follows the Ravensthorpe contract award with First Quantum that was announced November 20, 2019. MACA said works were expected to start in February utilising existing crushing equipment.

In Brazil, MACA said it would retain ownership of the majority of the plant and equipment currently utilised at the Antas copper mine, in Para state, northern Brazil, and would dispose of assets that are not redeployed to other operations.

“It is expected there will be a non-cash impairment related to the cessation of operations in Brazil of approximately A$2 million,” MACA said. “In addition, there are unrealised forex losses that will be triggered upon closure of the subsidiary, of approximately A$5 million based on current exchange rates.”

Profit from ordinary operations was not expected to be impacted as a result of the closure given the recent financial performance of the contract, MACA added.

WIH attributable to MACA as at January 31, 2020 is expected to be A$2.3 billion across all business units, MACA said, with current guidance for financial year 2020 (to end-June) remaining at A$770 million revenue and EBITDA from operations (excluding the impact of the Antas impairment and forex losses) to be in a range of A$104-$110 million.