Tag Archives: phosphate

Bartram comes back to TOMRA Mining ready for sensor-based sorting demand uptick

Having left TOMRA Mining more than a decade ago only to return to the Germany-based company in November, Kai Bartram’s re-arrival at the sensor-based sorting firm represents a good time to take stock and reflect on how far the mining sector has come with its understanding and acceptance of this type of pre-concentration technology.

Bartram, now Global Sales Director of TOMRA Mining and a member of TOMRA’s Mining Management Team, was happy to answer some of IM’s questions after getting his feet back under the table in the company’s offices in Wedel, Germany.

IM: How has the mining industry’s appreciation of the benefits of sensor-based ore sorting changed since you left TOMRA in 2010? What trends have led to a wider take up of the technology?

KB: In 2010, sensor-based sorting (SBS) was still seen as a niche technology in the mining industry. Some smaller, more innovative mining companies had seen the potential and effectively implemented SBS, but the mining industry, as such, had not accepted the technology. While in the industrial minerals sector several optical sorters – and, in the diamond industry, mainly X-ray luminescence machines – were operating, the rest of the industry was cautious about integrating sorters into their flowsheets.

That changed slowly with the introduction of Dual Energy X-ray technology. The technology is so robust and perfectly suited to the harsh environment of the mining industry that the economic benefits of pre-concentration became obvious. Another point that has strongly supported the adoption of sorting technology is the fact that average ore grades keep decreasing while energy costs keep increasing.

IM: Diamond and industrial mineral operations were typically the first adopters in the mining sector; what commodity sectors do you expect to see dominate demand for sensor-based ore sorting systems into 2030? What changes to the technology or wider industry understanding have led to this belief?

KB: In the beginning, sorters were seen as small machines, which would never meet the capacity requirements of large hard-rock mineral processing circuits. Therefore, only small mines saw the opportunity to implement sorting as a pre-concentration step in their process. Today, we see that our 2.4-m-wide flagship sorter, TOMRA COM XRT 2.0, can process up to 500 t/h, so that large operations can also implement the technology. An example of such a trend is the Ma’aden Phosphate Umm Wu’al processing plant, where 2,000 t/h are processed with TOMRA XRT sorters.

I am sure we will see more of these bigger projects in many different commodities. Of course, the current market trend is towards ores that are required for the electric revolution, like lithium, copper, cobalt and rare earth elements. TOMRA has proven that we have the right solution to upgrade those ores efficiently and can contribute to more economical output. So, I expect to see more installations in the future.

The TOMRA COM XRT 2.0 units can process up to 500 t/h

IM: Are there any regions more willing to apply these solutions than others? Why is this the case?

KB: If you look at our global reference list, you can see that the larger installed base resides in Europe, Africa and the Americas. The Asian markets are a little behind, but this is easily explained by history. As a European company, we focused more on the better known and established markets. In general, the mining market is a very global industry with big players active in all continents.
I do not believe there are regions more willing to apply the technology than others. It is just a matter of supporting all regions in the same way. TOMRA is investing heavily to ensure we have a good global support network, to be there for and with our clients.

IM: Do you expect to see more collaboration with OEMs over the next decade when it comes to implementing ore sorting solutions with process flowsheets? How do you see the input of both TOMRA and OEMs benefitting the wider mining industry?

KB: Collaboration is essential in any industry. We need specialists who are experts in their field, and TOMRA is one of the global leaders in sensor-based sorting. In order to achieve the best results in one field, one must focus. Therefore, big projects can only be undertaken by a group of companies or experts who collaboratively work together. We, as a solution provider, are very dependent on well-engineered and integrated plant designs and believe we have to collaborate and have close relationships with plant builders to ensure the best possible solution for our clients.

Kropz introduces first ore to Elandsfontein phosphate processing plant

Kropz, an emerging Africa-focused phosphate developer, has introduced first ore to its plant at the Elandsfontein mine, in the Western Cape of South Africa in what it says is a major milestone.

Now that ore has been introduced to the plant, the team is ensuring all the front end circuits are balanced and running stably. The flotation circuits will then be commissioned and the reagents added in due course for the production of the first concentrate. Commissioning activities are expected to transition into full scale ramp-up of the mining and beneficiation plant over the coming six months.

Mining activities at Elandsfontein commenced in October 2021, and significant volumes of ore are available to support the commissioning ramp-up, according to the company.

Elandsfontein, 74% owned by Kropz, hosts South Africa’s second-largest phosphate deposit, according to the company.

Kropz purchased the Elandsfontein property in 2010, developing an open-pit mining operation and on-site processing facility with a production capacity of 1 Mt/y on site. Some $160 million has been invested in project development, mine, processing plant and construction of associated infrastructure. Rock phosphate from the open-pit mine will be stockpiled, before passing to the milling and classification circuit in the processing plant where it is prepared for flotation. Concentrate and tailings streams are thickened and filtered. The concentrate is then dried and stored for dispatch to port.

Kropz CEO, Mark Summers, said: “The introduction of ore to the processing plant reflects the successful culmination of the construction phase and signals the commencement of the next chapter in the company’s development. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for the tireless efforts of all of those involved in reaching this milestone safely and on time, despite the many challenges that the past two years have presented.”

Transnet has provided the company with a draft port access agreement to support the long-term export of Elandsfontein’s phosphate rock through the port of Saldanha. The contract is now being finalised between the parties. First phosphate rock ore exports from Elandsfontein are expected in the March quarter of 2022.

It is anticipated that the imported reagents required for the recovery of phosphate concentrate will be delivered this month, however, the supply chain situation remains a challenge, with the recent force majeure declared by Transnet Port Terminals in Cape Town on December 21, presenting further risk to the project, Kropz said. The company is investigating options to off-load containers at alternative ports and transport the commodities to the mine site by road to arrive in early January 2022.

SNC-Lavalin to assess sulphuric acid plant options at Ammaroo phosphate project

SNC-Lavalin Group says it will undertake a definitive feasibility study for Verdant Minerals’ Ammaroo phosphate project in the Northern Territory of Australia.

The group is providing engineering and procurement services to assess the feasibility of a 4,500 t/d sulphuric acid plant, which will be part of a fully-integrated mine and downstream processing facility to produce ammonium phosphate fertilisers.

This sulphuric acid plant will use DuPont Clean Technologies’ MECS® technologies to minimise SO2 emissions, rendering the plant more sustainable in the long term, SNC-Lavalin said. MECS Heat Recovery System (HRS) technology will also be used to recover medium pressure steam from the sulphuric acid plant, an energy now captured instead of being wasted, providing the majority of energy requirements for the site and removing the need to have additional sources of energy.

This will maximise energy efficiency while reducing the overall facility’s reliance on energy supply from external sources and overall lessen its carbon footprint, SNC-Lavalin added.

Initial development of Ammaroo could produce in the order of 2 Mt/y of phosphate concentrate, with further downstream processing resulting in 500,000 t/y of merchant-grade phosphoric acid (100% P2O5) for domestic and global markets, Verdant says.

Patrick Sikka, Vice-President, North America, Mining & Metallurgy at SNC-Lavalin, said: “We are proud to be working with Verdant Minerals on this project to develop a world-class sulphuric acid plant as part of its major new mine and processing development, ensuring the long-term sustainability of its operations.”

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.”