Tag Archives: phosphate

Ecolab uses mixed reality to troubleshoot process water problem at phosphate mine

Ecolab’s Remote Assist program has leveraged mixed-reality technology to overcome COVID-19 restrictions and provide critical, speedy customer support to a mining company in the Middle East.

The company, a customer of Nalco Water, an Ecolab company, was suffering from an unknown mechanical issue, which impacted chemical dosing for process water treatment. As a result, the phosphate mine was facing a potentially costly disruption of its activities.

“Not too long ago, the mine’s remote location of approximately 1,400 km away from the nearest technician might have led to operations being curtailed for several days,” Ecolab said. “Challenges created by the pandemic further hindering the technician’s ability to travel could have made the outcome even more bleak. However, by leveraging mixed-reality tools that combine elements of virtual reality and augmented reality to create a blend of the physical and digital world – in this case, a hands-free tablet-class wearable computer – Ecolab’s mining division was able to come to the rescue in a timeframe that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago.”

Connecting with a senior engineer at the treatment plant, the Nalco Water technician was able to communicate in real time, inspecting the equipment to gain an understanding of the operational challenges on site. Safely working together in a virtual environment, the two associates were able to quickly diagnose the issue and replace the component that was ultimately behind the problem.

“Service that would otherwise have required two days of travel was completed in just one hour, saving travel costs, maintaining social distancing and reducing the carbon footprint,” Ecolab said.

As well as offering mining and mineral processing programs that combine chemistry, automation and control technology to help plants optimise production, Nalco Water’s proprietary 3D TRASAR™ smart water treatment system has enabled the company to offer the benefits of remote monitoring and troubleshooting on over 40,000 units installed worldwide, Ecolab said.

Arjan Boogaards, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Mining & Mineral Processing, Nalco Water, said: “We have greatly optimised productivity for our customers with these innovations, but, inevitably, the occasional mechanical issue will call for service and support that is outside of the scope of smart controllers and automation on site. That’s where we can apply mixed-reality technology and continue to transform the future of service and support by enabling expedient, accessible issue resolution. We can help connect our customers to a global infrastructure of research, innovation, engineering and digital experts in a faster and more efficient way.”

Ecolab’s Remote Assist program incorporates mobile applications that can connect to a remote collaborator. Through live video calling, annotations and sharing high-resolution snapshots with the remote collaborator, users can co-operate to troubleshoot problems quickly, according to the company.

Use of the latest mixed-reality technology enables Ecolab to gain remote access to its customers’ facilities in several beneficial ways. Its sales and technical representatives in the field can wear mixed reality devices for a “digital focus first, real-world focus second” approach to basic digital training in safe environments, Ecolab said.

Mixed reality also enables them to virtually connect to Ecolab’s scientists, engineers and cross-functional teams for support. This enables them to remotely diagnose and troubleshoot issues around contamination, oversee chemistry usage, guide the installation of new equipment, monitor water and process conditions and, ultimately, implement solutions that maximise customer productivity.

“This is most definitely an approach both we and our clients will continue with, even after COVID-19 has become a bad memory,” Boogaards said. “The pandemic has sped up the process for many companies to adopt digital tools, and they are dramatically improving their operations. The time and money savings are undeniable, so companies that do not make use of these tools could place themselves at a competitive disadvantage. We’re clearly entering a new era.”

FLSmidth to take on productivity improvement challenge at Middle East phosphate op

FLSmidth says it has been chosen as the technical partner and the supplier of key equipment for the productivity improvement project at a phosphate beneficiation plant in the Middle East.

The order, valued at approximately DKK200 million ($32 million), was booked in March. It will focus on improving the overall plant production through improved plant availability and throughput, according to the company. The operation will also achieve an associated reduction in water consumption resulting from a modified desliming circuit, FLSmidth added.

The agreement includes the engineering and procurement of all equipment associated with the productivity improvement projects, including crushing, material handling and desliming circuits.

Mikko Keto, Mining President at FLSmidth, said: “Boosting customer productivity is a key objective and this combination of equipment and know-how will enable us to deliver this to the customer. As the full technology and engineering partner, we will not only supply the complete range of process-critical equipment but we can also support its integration across the project, ensuring maximised productivity improvement.”

FLSmidth is to deliver engineering, procurement and technical support services and supply all tagged equipment associated with the remedial projects at the site. This encompasses additional capacity in the fine ore circuit; a new cone crushing station; a new desliming circuit; a new concentrate bypass circuit; and optimisation of the existing flotation circuit, including installation of nextSTEP™ flotation technology.

RPMGlobal helps Arianne Phosphate with Lac à Paul mine to port haulage

RPMGlobal says its leading mining simulation product has brought Arianne Phosphate a step closer to bringing its Lac à Paul phosphate project in Quebec, Canada, into production after enabling the company to optimise key haulage routes for its development.

Arianne Phosphate selected RPMGlobal’s HAULSIM during its critical engineering study phase so it could evaluate several haulage scenarios and effectively link the Lac à Paul project in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region to port facilities 240 km away.

HAULSIM is a 4-D Discrete Event Simulation (DES) tool which enables the user to build a digital twin of any mining operation to evaluate different scenarios, fleet options, haulage routes, stockpile and dump placement and much more, according to RPMGlobal.

“The solution delivers an accurate representation of haulage operations within a mine site and provides capability to quantify the impact of changes,” the company said. “The model reflects the complex and dynamic nature of a mine site in its entirety; including the variability, interactions and dependencies that occur in these systems.”

Using HAULSIM, Arianne Phosphate was able to gather critical insights on the optimal operating conditions for the haulage routes within the Lac à Paul project, according to the company.

By modelling, analysing and enhancing different scenarios for the ideal haulage network, Arianne Phosphate now has confidence in its recommendation to invest capital in its mine to port haulage route with a clear view of predicted outcomes, RPMGlobal said.

Jean-Sébastien David, Chief Operating Officer of Arianne Phosphate, said: “RPMGlobal’s commitment to improving efficiency and value of our mining operations through cutting-edge solutions made the decision to select HAULSIM a natural one.”

He added: “Partnering with a global leader in the development of leading mining and haulage systems enabled us to demonstrate the attractive returns that the Lac à Paul project is set to generate.”

Arianne is looking to process 55,000 t/d of ore at Lac à Paul to produce 3 Mt/y of phosphate concentrate (apatite) over a 26-year mine life. Once development is complete, the project is set to consist of an open-pit mine, a concentration plant and deepwater port facilities.

Sandeep Sandhu, RPMGlobal Americas General Manger, said: “It has been great to work with a passionate company like Arianne Phosphate and it has been very rewarding to see our solutions making a valuable contribution towards advancing the Lac à Paul phosphate project.

“RPMGlobal has more than 40 years’ experience in mining and haulage systems and adds value at all stages of the mining value chain. We’re proud to be able to contribute to the Lac à Paul project and achieve results through the use of HAULSIM that will create positive social and economic impacts for all stakeholders.”

Multotec liners scrub up nicely for Morocco phosphate mine

In one of its largest scrubber installations to date, Multotec Rubber is helping a phosphate mine in Morocco achieve new levels of efficiency thanks to the installation of customised liners.

The scrubbers measure 6.5 m in diameter and 11 m in length – large dimensions necessitated by the process plant throughput of 12 Mt/y. The installation, conducted during the March quarter of 2019, was carried out in response to a serious challenge faced by the customer. The existing head plates were wearing out at double the rate of the shell plates. This was leading to additional maintenance shutdowns during the life of the liners, with associated extra costs.

According to Mohamed Trabelsi, Senior Sales Engineer at Multotec Rubber, the collaboration with the customer included sending a Multotec team to site to first assess the situation. Multotec already had a longstanding relationship with the customer at this process plant, with Multotec trommel screens having operated successfully at the plant for over three years.

“Our team of engineers were on site to gather vital operating information including throughput tonnages, particle size, charge levels and rotational speed,” Trabelsi said. “We also assessed the variable speed drive system.”

This data was processed using the Rocky DEM simulation software, in which Multotec Rubber has made a significant investment. Leveraged by engineers, this software can simulate the full lifecycle of liners and predict when the scrubber will no longer perform efficiently, according to the company.

Rocky DEM allows engineers to accurately simulate all operating parameters in the scrubber. These include the shape and size of ore particles in the slurry being fed into the scrubber slurry, the charge level, the linings, attrition rates, particle trajectories and the scrubber’s rotational speed, Multotec Rubber says.

“We can therefore simulate the actual operating conditions of the scrubber, as well as the performance of the head and shell liners,” Trabelsi said. “Upon our assessment of the results, it was found we needed a different configuration of liners to the previous one in this application. In fact, the solution was a uniquely designed liner configuration – quite different to what is traditionally used.”

He notes that, in Multotec’s experience of high throughput scrubber applications, it is critical to lift the material away from the head plate, thereby alleviating the sliding abrasion which causes excessive wear.

“Our objective was to ensure optimum wear life with the lowest total operating costs,” Trabelsi said. “Efficiency was enhanced by ensuring that the liner profile configuration was suited to the specific operating conditions. By doing this, the wear life in this application has been improved.”

Since installation, the liners have been performing in line with the customer’s expectations and are expected to have a lifespan of over five years. These lifecycle predictions also allowed the payback period to be accurately determined, assisting the customer in making the best operational and financial decision, the company said.

The liners are locally manufactured at Multotec Rubber’s ISO 9001:2015 facility near Johannesburg, South Africa, which has benefitted from continued investment in technology over the years, the company said.

“Our quality manufacturing facility expedites the production of liners engineered for individual applications,” Trabelsi said. “The entire process from design stage to installation took just 12 weeks – in response to the urgency resulting from the premature failure of the previous scrubber lining installation.”

Trabelsi also noted that – even after finding an appropriate solution – mines must constantly anticipate changing conditions in their process plants.

“As mines develop, the orebody changes; this brings changes to their throughput capacities and mill operating parameters,” he said. “If a process plant has liners that have run for 10 years, it is not necessarily a given that this liner configuration is still suitable for the application.”

He emphasises that it is critical to conduct an assessment exercise in every application, before quoting on a replacement liner. Most importantly, the liners should be engineered in accordance with the current operational parameters of the mine.

“This is why Multotec Rubber considers it so important that our engineers go to site and assess the actual mill operating data for themselves,” he said. “This makes it possible for us to gain access to the information from the plant operating system, so that the best solution can be engineered for the mine.”

Correctly designed liners will offer greater energy efficiency and reduce media consumption, according to Trabelsi. This is significant, as energy input and media consumption account for around 80% of the grinding costs in the plant – depending on the application.

“The more we are able to simulate, the more accurate information becomes available,” Trabelsi said. “We are then able to accurately predict the savings and payback period that could be expected at the plant – as a result of improved efficiency and reduced power consumption per tonne.”

Weir’s Warman AHF slurry pumps cut through the froth in South Africa

Weir Minerals’ Warman® AHF pumps have been put to the test at two mines in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, the company said.

The pumps were tasked with pumping frothy, high density and viscous slurries at the platinum and phosphate mines.

Weir said: “Handling froth in some process circuits can be very challenging, as froth will air-bind a conventional slurry pump. In froth applications, the Warman AHF inducer impeller solves this problem, producing far less surging. The inducer impeller and oversized inlet enhance the movement of the froth, high density or viscous slurries into the impeller, facilitating effective transportation.

“In addition, its higher efficiencies mean a smaller pump will deliver the required results.”

At the platinum operation, a Warman AHF 2 pump was commissioned in early 2016. It has met the specified flow rate of 40 m3/h with no pump-related stoppages, repairs or replacements, according to Weir.

A 12-month trial period showed the unit saved the mine over R200,000 ($14,153) when compared with the cost of the competitor pump installed previously. Based on this, the mine replaced another eight competitor products with Warman AHF pumps, Weir said. It has approved the Warman AHF 3 pumps as standard for all frothy applications at the plant’s first flotation section, and Warman AHF 2 pumps for the second flotation section, the company added.

The Warman AHF pumps – with Hi Seal® expeller (dry gland) design – were also tested in a viscous slurry application at the phosphate mine in Limpopo for six months. According to Weir, they demonstrated they could continuously pump the high-density viscous underflow slurry at relative densities above 1.9. “As a result, the customer purchased the pump and began upgrading all the remaining concentrate thickener underflow pumps to the Warman AHF pump technology,” Weir said.

This reduced the plant’s operational costs significantly, decreased dewatering and concentrate moisture extraction operations, improved filtration efficiency and increased concentrate throughput to the dryers, according to Weir. The Warman AHF pump also extended the underflow pumping boundaries and the overall reliability of the thickener underflow pumping system.

“Other field and laboratory tests have proven that the Warman AHF pump has largely overcome the problem of high-density viscous underflow slurries, with negligible effects on head at slurry yield stresses up to 200 Pa,” the company said.

Jacques Pretorius, Weir Minerals Africa’s Pump Product Development Specialist, said the approach to solving any thickener underflow pumping problem must be based on a thorough understanding of the entire application, the mineralogy and rheological behaviour of the slurry.

“Successful thickener underflow pumping projects are only achievable through involving a team of thickener engineers, pumping engineers and rheological consultants,” he said. “Weir Minerals’ pump trial campaigns confirm the successful operability of the Warman AHF pumps in viscous slurry applications.”

Centrex Metals looks to CDE washing plant to refine phosphate production

Australia-based mining company Centrex Metals has partnered with CDE Meta to deliver a state-of-the-art wet processing plant, currently in transit to the company’s Ardmore site, that will produce phosphate concentrate, according to CDE.

The plant is expected to arrive on site this month following the completion of fabrication and successful factory acceptance testing, CDE said.

Located south of Mount Isa in northwest Queensland, Centrex Metals’ Ardmore phosphate rock project is expected to produce 776,000 t/y of premium-grade phosphate rock concentrate, according to a recent feasibility study.

The pilot CDE phosphate washing plant, expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2019, will wash, scrub and de-slime free-digging ore to produce premium 35% P2O5 and ultra-low cadmium phosphate rock concentrate to be used in the manufacture of phosphoric acid, CDE said. It will progress to full-scale development in 2020.

The modular plant has a capacity of 70 t/h and has been designed to accommodate the expansion of the plant in phase two, which is expected to double the scale of the operation to process 140 t/h, equivalent to 800,000 t/y (wet).

During phase one, the pilot plant will provide up to 30,000 t (wet) concentrate to a number of Centrex Metals customers.

A digital representation of the new Centrex Metals Ardmore phosphate plant

Adam Holland, Head of Mining at CDE, said: “This 70 t/h solution, created in collaboration with Centrex, is part of a two-phase project. The pilot plant comprises the first phase and has been carefully designed using CDE’s unique modular offering in order to facilitate the simple and cost-effective transition to a 140 t/h plant in phase two.

“CDE’s modular approach solved many of the challenges presented by the remote location of the reserve, providing the flexibility required to protect that initial investment when moving from a pilot to full scale plant in 2020. This was essential for Centrex Metals to gain the necessary return on investment to make the project viable.”

To alleviate challenges presented by the remote location and its restricted access to water supplies, CDE is also supplying its AquaCycle technology, a high-efficiency water management system which recovers up to 90% of the process water for immediate recirculation in the system.

The bespoke solution designed and commissioned by CDE has contributed to Centrex Metals reducing its pre-production capital costs by 13% due to key design changes and equipment selection.

Simon Slesarewich, CEO at Centrex Metals, said: “This is an exciting development for Centrex and we look forward to receiving the first module of the start-up plant on site.

“Following a thorough feasibility study, we expect to produce 776,000 t of premium grade phosphate rock concentrate, which is equivalent to 800,000 wet tonnes per annum at the target shipping level of 3% moisture.

“To deliver this target over the estimated 10-year lifetime of the mine, we required a reliable and resilient wet processing solution to remove the fine gangue after the high-grade ore has been crushed to meet sizing specifications. Our research showed that CDE could deliver a solution that fully met our requirements.”

He continued: “Trial mining and production will enable the company to demonstrate the quality of the Ardmore product and further advance the project with offtake partners in the Asia-Pacific region that is forecast to see increased growth with this quality of material.”

thyssenkrupp to help build new Uzbekistan chemical complex, Ferkensco says

A new chemical complex aimed at increasing the production of fertilisers in Uzbekistan is to be built, with help from thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, lead investor Ferkensco Management Ltd reports.

The construction of the new facility is in line with the Presidential Decree of April 3, 2019 on reforms in the chemical industry and making it more attractive for foreign investment, and The Presidential Decree of February 1, 2019 on the development of cooperation between the Republic of Uzbekistan and Germany, according to Ferkensco.

It is expected that the new complex will be built in the Samarkand region (pictured), on territory owned by JSC Samarkandkimyo, and that potential output at the complex will include ammonium sulphate, urea, melamine and phosphorous-based fertilisers, with the output to be used domestically, but with the option for increased exports.

“The Presidential Initiatives support increased synergies between the oil and gas and agriculture sectors, and the use of a specific quality of domestic gas for fertiliser production,” Ferkensco said, adding: “The petrochemical industry and fertilisers have an important role to play in growing Uzbekistan’s economy in the upcoming years.”

Rhosonics SDMs win plaudits at OCP Group’s Beni Amir phosphate mine

Rhosonics Slurry Density Meter (SDM) has proven its worth at the OCP Group’s Beni Amir phosphate mine and washing plant in Morocco, the Netherlands-based company said in its latest case study.

The leading phosphate miner recently evaluated nine months’ worth of test work at Beni Amir, which came out with favourable results.

OCP began operating the Beni Amir mine and washing plant in Morocco in 2015. Here, the phosphate ore at the washing plant goes through a wet treatment process to enrich the ore and increase its “Boone Phosphate of Line” content, according to Rhosonics.

Four pieces of the Rhosonics SDM, a non-nuclear density meter using sustainable ultrasonic technology, were installed at the Beni Amir plant in April 2018.

Rhosonics said: “The phosphate industry traditionally uses nuclear devices. Non-nuclear devices are still quite new to this industry and success stories are limited.”

By measuring the acoustic impedance of a slurry, the SDM calculates the density of the slurry in-line during the process, according to Rhosconics. The sensor is made of stainless steel and ceramic material. “Because of the new sensor material, the sensor has lots of better properties. By making use of ceramic material, the ultrasonic signal is more bright and powerful than before.”

Mohammed el Moudden, Chief Instrumentation of OCP Beni Amir, said: “We confirm a successful test of the SDM from April 2018 until now. A single calibration is sufficient for operation over three months. The team at the Beni Amir washing plant are satisfied with this technology.”

The Rhosonics SDMs were installed in the output of a cyclone, a mixing tank and two thickeners to improve the efficiency and fully use the production capacity of these separation processes, Rhosonics said.

Now, following this trial, the OCP Group has bought 13 additional non-nuclear Rhosonics SDMs to install at several locations at the washing plant, the company said.

Mosaic clears final hurdle to develop Ona phosphate project in Florida, US

The Mosaic Company has acquired the US Army Corps of Engineers 404 permit for its Ona phosphate project in Hardee County, Florida. This was the final remaining permit for the project and secures 160.2 million tons, or 145.33 Mt (metric), of phosphate rock for future mining, the company said.

The overall project covers 22,483 acres (9,099 ha) with 16,778 acres of land permitted for mining.

“The western extent of the project will extend the life of Mosaic’s Four Corners mine by 14 years, while the eastern extent will provide mining for future decades at the South Pasture mine once production resumes at that facility,” the company said.

Mosaic President and CEO, Joc O’Rourke, said: “This important project helps secure the continued operation of our Florida manufacturing facilities. It will deliver tremendous value to the local community, our employees and our investors well into the future.”

Permitting efforts for the Ona project began in 2011. Mining permits from the State of Florida were issued in 2015 and local government permits were secured in July 2018.

Fluor completed the front-end engineering and design scopes for the Ona project, which includes an expansion of the existing South Pasture beneficiation plant, an extension of the life of the existing Four Corners beneficiation plant, and installation of a 24 km mining access/pipeline corridor.

Late last month, Mosaic reached a major milestone in the development of its multi-year mine project at Esterhazy K3, in Saskatchewan, Canada, with the commissioning of the production hoist and sending of the first bucket of potash on the overland conveyor to the Esterhazy K2 mill.

The commissioning of the K3 production hoist, which will move 60-ton skips, takes the company one step closer to mitigating Esterhazy’s brine inflow costs and risk, it said. K3 is expected to reach full operational capacity by 2024.

Alliance and Incitec Pivot extend FIFO contract at Phosphate Hill

Mine and plant workers will continue to have a fly in/fly out (FIFO) option at the Phosphate Hill operations in northwest Queensland, Australia, after Alliance Aviation extended its air charter services contract with owner Incitec Pivot.

The contract has been extended for three years with a bolt on two-year option that could see the service continue until 2021.

Incitec Pivot expects to produce 880,000 tonnes of ammonium phosphates from the operation in the year to the end of September, below the 975,000 tonne per year capacity. Phosphate Hill consists of its own mine and ore processing facility, in addition to beneficiation, ammonia, phosphoric acid and granulation plants.

Alliance has been providing air charter services to Phosphate Hill, 1,000 km from Townsville, since 2002. It provides these from its Townsville and Brisbane bases.

Lee Schofield, Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Flying into Phosphate Hill commenced in 2002 – the same year in which Alliance was established – and we are delighted to have retained this foundation contract for a further five years. By the conclusion of this new contract, Alliance will have been flying into Phosphate Hill for a continuous period of 19 years.”