Metso is looking to increase access to and improve the visualisation of mining process flowsheets with a new tool that could ultimately see more of its equipment end up at mine sites.
My Plant Planner offers engineering customers and mining end users the ability to model a flowsheet after inputting certain key parameters of their orebodies. They can then also visualise this plant layout in a platform that is free to use.
Metso, along with other OEMs, has provided visualisation tools to the industry for many years.
The company’s Bruno simulation software has over 7,000 users and has been helping customers select the right equipment for their mines since 1994. This software includes all the necessary Metso equipment, such as feeders, crushers and screens, and shows outputs for different end products, providing users with the data they need to make informed decisions on the right equipment.
My Plant Planner utilises this simulation expertise, but does so at a much earlier stage of the equipment selection process.
With the tool, customers can pick and choose different types of crushers, screens and conveyors to get the perfect balance for the circuit and identify bottlenecks to understand where extra capacity is needed, according to Metso.
Important factors, such as capacity, load, and power draw, are updated in real time as the circuit is designed and the parameters updated. At any point, it is possible to download a report that gathers together all the details about the plant being designed. It includes details on the chosen crushers, screens, conveyors and their parameters, including power consumption.
“We decided to develop this tool as we were seeing different types of requirements from our customers and EPCMs (engineering procurement and construction management) at the time around prefeasibility studies and we wanted to be more reactive to this,” Guillaume Lambert, Vice President of Metso’s Crushing Systems business line, explained to IM.
Prior to using such a tool, these EPCM firms were developing flowsheets for economic studies – the type of documents investors use to gauge the potential profitability of a mine development – over a matter of months or years in tandem with OEMs, before moving onto obtaining quotes based on their mining customers’ budgets.
As time has gone on, these firms have been asked by their mining customers to factor in more requirements into these studies. One may require a reduced plant footprint due to the proximity of indigenous communities; another may request that energy consumption is reduced in line with existing available power infrastructure in the region.
The requests vary depending on the size of company, the location of the project, the commodity and many other elements.
This is where the three-dimensional aspect of My Plant Planner is very important, according to Lambert, providing customers with not only a visualisation of the flowsheet, but also a gauge of the physical constraints that cannot be represented in 2D form.
This means companies assessing brownfield assessments can factor in height and width restrictions of existing infrastructure against capital expenditure requirements.
The turnaround time for the type of analysis being carried out by My Plant Planner is also a key selling point, allowing companies to generate results in a matter of hours, as opposed to waiting two to three weeks for a flowsheet assessment.
This speed could allow customers to explore multiple processing flowsheets in a simplified form as part of their due diligence process – for example weighing up a three stage conventional crushing and screening flowsheet against a HPGR circuit.
So far, the crushing and screening portion of the process flowsheet will be covered with the launch of My Plant Planner, but, based on customer feedback, the company plans to expand to the filtration process and other downstream elements.
As to why the company started with crushing and screening, the answer is an obvious one, according to Lambert.
Metso already has Bruno and VPS software (mine to mill assessments) in place – “we don’t have to reinvent the wheel in this regard”, Lambert said – and it is the area of the flowsheet that tends to come with the most equipment options.
“You can have three crushers in parallel, or one big one; a large screen in close circuit, or a smaller one in open circuit, etc,” he said.
It is this flexibility that miners require today. New projects coming to the table are very rarely 20-plus year developments that require a uniform comminution process over their lifetime.
Capex-conscious miners and their investors are instead bankrolling developments that tend to come with less than 10 years of life and are conservative when it comes to throughput. This is with the idea that they will fund the mine life extensions and expansions from existing cash flow when the operation is at full tilt.
These growth plans will inevitably come with the need to amend the process flowsheet down the line – which is where the plant footprint visualisation ability of My Plant Planner could come into play.
Flexibility such as this is also coming into Metso’s equipment line-up, with the company, only last week, launching its flexible FIT™ and smart Foresight™ crushing and screening stations for mining.
The FIT stations are designed with a focus on speed and flexibility, with two stations to choose from – Recrushing station and Jaw station – while the Foresight stations are equipped with smart automation technology including Metso Metrics™, VisioRock™, level sensors and crusher variable frequency drive.
These modular solutions are geared towards reducing capital expenditure and providing shorter lead times. In other words, they offer more flexibility.
It is tools such as My Plant Planner that will highlight just how important this flexibility could be over the life of mine of a chosen operation, providing users with the visibility to help navigate choppy commodity cycles and ensure their operations remain profitable over the long term.
You can find more details on My Plant Planner by clicking here.