Tag Archives: Weir Minerals

Weir Minerals’ Vulco rubber compound proves its mill lining worth

Close to four years after release, Weir Minerals Vulco® 67 rubber compound is providing exceptional wear life and reliability in mill lining systems, according to the OEM.

These abrasion- and impact-resistant rubber compounds have been developed with advanced technologies by the Weir Minerals’ team of expert engineers and material scientists who are continually refining Vulco rubber products to keep them at the forefront of mill lining systems technology, the company says.

Having identified a need for higher-wearing rubbers for mill lining systems, the material science experts commenced developing an industry leading, premium-grade rubber compound with superior wear life and performance in mill lining applications. The result was the Vulco R67 rubber – a material manufactured with proprietary new compounds and innovative methods of processing to deliver outstanding wear life and longer uptime, Weir Minerals says.

Extensive field research, compound testing and site trials were conducted to ensure it was not only able to withstand severe abrasion in typical mill system applications, but that it is best in class, the company said.

“In fact, it has been the most wear-resistant rubber compound that Weir Minerals has ever developed for mill lining applications,” Weir Minerals said. “The R67 compound boasts a high hardness, elongation, tensile and tear strength, and is suitable for lifter bars, head/shell plates and grates. When it’s utilised in conjunction with metal cap mill liners, the result is a versatile, economical and efficient product that weighs up to 50% less than steel alone.

“The added benefit is a lighter product that’s faster, easier and safer to install.”

Revolutionising wear lining

Since its launch in 2018, many mining operators from around the globe have implemented the R67 compound into their mill lining systems, according to Weir Minerals. They have reported as much as 20-40% improvement in wear life, which is resulting in fewer mill lining replacements and longer mill campaigns. This reduction in shutdowns has a dual benefit of increased cost savings and improved plant availability.

With a liner that can run significantly longer, operators have experienced a wide range of benefits including:

  • Improved wear life;
  • A measurable reduction in mill downtime;
  • Increased uptime and processing;
  • Easier and safer installations; and
  • Reduced maintenance costs.

In-field success

Extensive global trials and commercial installations in the market have resulted in several successful outcomes across a variety of different grinding applications.

As an example, a high-grade nickel and copper mining project in the US had a problem where the liners in one ball mill were wearing out too quickly, leading to continued downtime and reduced processing. The operation was looking for a product significantly superior to the elastomer it was using. Initially there was reluctance from the mine, as it had loyalty to its original mill supplier, however after Weir Minerals conducted a series of trajectory simulations and discrete modelling – to optimise the design and deliver the best process performance for the mill – it agreed to trial the R67 liners.

At the end of the trial, the R67 showed 30-40% better performance than the incumbent liners and the customer installed a full set of R67 liners in its mill.

Another trial in the US took place in an iron ore mine with several dozen ball mills in operation. Here, Vulco R67 liners delivered a 17% increase in life compared with the failed shell plates from the mine’s original mill lining system supplier. The company has since installed a complete shell liner in its ball mill.

Moving to Chile, a copper mine was keen to trial the R67 compound to see if it could improve the wear time of a competitor rubber liner. After a three-month trial, all liners were physically measured showing the Vulco R67 liners fully worn wear life projected from the actual wear would be 80% longer compared with the incumbent liners.

Another copper processing plant in Chile trialled R67 composite liners in its SAG mill against two other compounds commonly used in the industry. After 12 months, there was a 48% and 62% wear life improvement on the other liners – proving the R67 composite liners could withstand the highly abrasive environment.

Vulco R67 mill liners are made exclusively at Weir Minerals facilities in North and South America, Australia and South Africa, with plans to expand production into more regions in the future.

Weir Minerals updates Trio live-shaft cone crusher range with TC84XR

Weir Minerals has upgraded its range of Trio® TC live-shaft cone crushers, incorporating the latest technology to ensure it remains integral to flowsheets long into the future, the OEM says.

The Trio® TC84XR features all the robust design elements that have made live-shaft crushers a fixture of the mining and sand and aggregate industries for generations, but updated it with new smarts, according to Weir Minerals.

Mark Utecht, Weir Minerals’ Director of Comminution Engineering, said: “The Trio TC cone crushers’ live-shaft design has been proven to perform in heavy-duty secondary and tertiary crushing applications. We wanted to build on this strong foundation. My team followed a comprehensive design process – we’ve reviewed and tested every inch of this crusher. While the TC84XR may seem familiar on the outside, we’ve upgraded its design and control functionality. The motor is larger and it has a much higher crushing capacity compared to equivalent sized crushers.

“The result: we now have an incredibly robust, powerful and technologically advanced crusher that is easy to operate, has a low wear rate and uses less energy, which ultimately lowers operating costs.”

While many OEMs have made the decision to discontinue their live-shaft cone crushers, Weir Minerals says it has resisted this trend, believing that, because every mining and sand and aggregate operation is different, there can’t be a one-size-fits all approach.

There are some applications and situations where pedestal (fixed-shaft) style crushers may be the more appropriate solution, which is why Weir Minerals continues to manufacture the premium Trio TP pedestal style machine, it said. Weir Minerals claims to be the only global equipment manufacturer offering both the TC live shaft and TP fixed shaft style machines.

“The combination of the Trio TP and TC fixed and live-shaft cone crushers ensures that Weir Minerals continue to offer their customers the right technology, regardless of their site structure, operating conditions or application,” Utecht said.

Trio live- and fixed-shaft cone crushers are made for modern mines and quarries with advanced hydraulics, wear resistant material and the latest technology, according to the company.

Ekkhart Matthies, Weir Minerals’ Global Application Director, said: “This is really exciting for our customers, as they now have a real choice. The combination of our TC and TP series allows us to have an honest conversation with our customers on the options available to them and make a technological recommendation which truly meets their needs.”

Replacing existing live-shaft style machines on site with the Trio TC84XR crusher is now a straightforward process because it has very similar dimensions and is a comparable weight to its live-shaft predecessors, Weir says. And because it produces the same product, downstream changes aren’t required, which isn’t the case when replacing a live-shaft style machine with a fixed-shaft style machine.

“In other words, there is no need to re-design existing circuits,” the company said.

Technology upgrades

The recent technology upgrades in the Trio TC84XR crusher have improved its safety, functionality and reliability, according to the OEM.

Matthies explained: “At Weir Minerals, we understand and appreciate the important role live-shaft cone crushers play in today’s challenging crushing applications. Combining decades of experience and first-hand customer feedback with innovative designs, the highest quality materials and latest in control technology, we believe that our new Trio TC84XR cone crusher is the most reliable and robust live-shaft cone in the market today.”

Engineered to perform in the most extreme applications, the Trio TC84XR crusher is robust and easy to maintain and operate, according to the company. It reliably delivers high crushing force and high horsepower in primary, crushed ore and quarry rock applications.

The ability of the TC84XR crusher to handle variable feed and crush pebbles is also partly a result of its large motor; it’s been designed with higher power capability than comparable cone crushers. Ultimately, this translates to a higher potential crushing force and, therefore, increase in production, Weir said.

Another feature that allows it to handle variable feed, as well as deal with tramp material safely, is the fully-automated tramp-release and setting recovery system. The tramp release hydraulics can also be used to safely clear the crushing chamber should a sudden disruption in plant power cause a shutdown of the cone crusher.

The socket assembly has been redesigned to improve sealing, which has optimised functionality and manufacturability by reducing the machining setups of the socket and seal rings, it said. The Weir comminution team has also redesigned the countershaft assembly to remove welding and machining, while simultaneously improving venting and the dust seal.

The Trio TC84XR crusher, like the range of TP series cone crushers, can be fitted with ESCO® wear parts, designed with superior ESCO alloys, which can be custom designed based on specific requirements.

Kışladağ and Weir Minerals on the HPGR-backed gold recovery trail

The story that led to the installation of a Weir Minerals Enduron® high pressure grinding roll (HPGR) at Eldorado Gold’s Kışladağ heap leach operation in Turkey is a fascinating read, as well as a great example of the benefits of using such technology.

Back in March 2018, Eldorado announced it would suspend mining to evaluate processing options for the operation. This decision followed extensive laboratory tests that indicated gold recoveries would continue to trend downwards around the base of the open pit where mining was underway.

This suspension, plus further engineering and test work, led to the company advancing the potential development of a mill project. The transition away from its heap leaching roots to a possible mill and carbon-in-leach (CIL) process would have added significant capital costs and shortened the mine life significantly.

Before making this significant capital decision, Eldorado paused to take time to undertake the necessary technical work and sought the technical collaboration of Weir Minerals on a solution.

“It was a very challenging period,” George Burns, President & CEO of Eldorado Gold Corporation, told IM. “Kışladağ is a cornerstone asset in our portfolio. It required collaboration with our geologists, metallurgists, site teams and technology providers, including Weir, working together on a solution.”

(Credit: Eldorado Gold)

In late 2018, results showed increased recoveries from an extended leach cycle. Following a deeper understanding of the geometallurgical drivers of the sulphide component of the deposit, improved heap leach recoveries were realised by optimising the metallurgical conditions. With these improved recoveries confirmed, the heap leach plan was revised in early 2019. Eldorado announced plans to resume mining, crushing, stacking and heap leaching at Kışladağ, and suspended plans to build the processing plant.

The decision came following metallurgical test work on the material placed on the heap leach pad in 2018. Gold recovery had increasingly exceeded expectations throughout the year, providing a new, positive heap leaching outlook beyond the near term. At the same time, Eldorado worked with Weir Minerals on the potential use of an HPGR at the operation.

HPGR creates a finer particle size, which helps to liberate the gold particles, resulting in increased recoveries.

An improved understanding of the leaching process on its low-grade ore and the potential of this cost-effective grinding addition provided it with the confidence to continue heap leaching beyond the short-term time horizon previously envisaged.

“Our collaboration with Weir on this effort is an excellent example of how Eldorado collaborates with technology leaders and seeks out solutions,” Burns said. “We believe this is a strength of the company’s core business values. We are agile and flexible ‒ a good example in both business and operations to find innovative, technical solutions and demonstrate prudent capital discipline. Ultimately, the solution was the best technical and economic decision for Eldorado.”

Testing, testing, testing

“The relationship between Weir Minerals’ and Kışladağ goes back to 2013,” Bjorn Dierx, Global Product Manager Enduron HPGR, told IM.

The OEM had been provided with samples on several occasions to investigate different flowsheet possibilities.

“The benefits of HPGR in heap leaching recovery were known by the site’s crew,” he said.

Enduron technology was tested at the quaternary crushing stage before heap leaching, in the quaternary crushing stage before ball milling and at the tertiary crushing directly before heap leaching.

All the time, the mine operator, Tuprag, Eldorado Gold’s subsidiary in Turkey, was evaluating the impact on gold recovery.

Although HPGR in closed circuit with screening was also tested, most of the test campaigns were focused on a configuration with so-called ‘Partial Product Recycling’ (PPR), according to Serhat Onol, Weir Minerals Senior Process Engineer.

“This system includes splitter plates underneath the rolls which ‘cut’ a proportion of the product discharge and reverts this back to the HPGR head feed,” he explained. “This recycle stream can be adjusted online to adapt the product grind towards the downstream requirements.”

PPR is not an option for every application but for Tuprag – due to the feed and desired product size – all specifications showed it was the best route.

“The hybrid solution with screening serves to increase the flexibility and to control the circulating load to the HPGR,” Onol said.

With capacity rates of around 4,200 t/h at Kışladağ, the screening area requirement was reasonably high, he explained.

“The hybrid solution uses screening only for the recirculating stream: the centre product of the HPGR reports to downstream leaching, whereas the rest is recirculated,” he said. This not only removes the fines re-entering the HPGR and, thus, reduces the circulating load, but also avoids the over-grinding of fines before leaching.

The PPR option, itself, is a very flexible operation, with the adjustable discharge splitter plates providing the best circuit flexibility in terms of throughput and product size, according to Onol.

(Credit: Eldorado Gold)

Great expectations

With the main driver of the HPGR installation being an improved gold recovery scenario, leading to an increased heap leach life, the pressure has been on Weir Minerals to come up with the goods.

The final flowsheet, which includes a 2.4 m diameter by 2.2 m long Enduron HPGR with the capacity to process 4,200 t/h, is much simpler than the existing circuit, according to Dierx, with less equipment to maintain, control and monitor.

“A single Enduron HPGR will replace all of the five existing tertiary crushers of which liners would have an average lifetime of circa-one month with a crusher availability of 85%,” he said. “The HPGR tyres have a wear life close to 18 months, with the HPGR achieving a high asset availability of more than 95%.

“Additionally, as a result of the HPGR combined with the hybrid PPR system, the existing four tertiary screens are also being decommissioned.”

Not only has the HPGR alleviated the use of this equipment, it is also set to boost that bottom line gold recovery.

“During testing, it was determined that the circuit configuration and HPGR operating conditions, such as pressure, have a direct influence on the gold recovery,” Dierx said. “The current expectation is that the average recovery increase after the commissioning of the Enduron solution will be approximately 4%.”

This could bring gold recovery to approximately 56%, as was declared in a 2020 press release from Eldorado that highlighted a 15-year mine life at Kışladağ with an average annual production of 160,000 oz.

In action

One of the largest brownfield HPGRs Weir Minerals has ever installed has just processed its first material at Kışladağ, which is testament to the hurdles both the Weir Minerals and Tuprag teams overcame during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite the challenges we faced during the pandemic, we were able to fully install the machine, including pre-commissioning, in only 22 weeks,” Dierx said.

(Credit: Eldorado Gold)

This was achieved by minimising the amount of work carried out on site via pre-site testing and modular HPGR assembly.

“As the available footprint in existing sites is limited, the unique Enduron design (length:diameter ratio) not only improves the grinding efficiency but also allows for easier implementation with less civil requirements,” Dierx said.

The machine has the potential to be digitally connected to the Weir Synertrex® IoT platform where operators can benefit from direct access to maintenance specialists, who will be monitoring performance and provide necessary operating guidance.

And the Weir Minerals team is confident more Enduron HPGR installations will follow the one at Kışladağ.

“We are very proud of the product’s recognition by our customers as the Enduron HPGR has been selected for all major greenfield HPGR projects in the hard-rock space,” Dierx said. “Despite all the key Enduron differentiators, it is not only merely about the product but particularly the wider experience across Weir Minerals in both the upstream and downstream processes via our wide product portfolio.

“Particularly in these brownfield applications, the system is not operating in a vacuum and every process change influences how the overall circuit works. This requires tacit knowledge, which Weir Minerals holds across their global teams.”

Eldorado’s Burns concluded: “We are pleased to implement a solution that increases gold recovery and supports a 15-year mine life at Kışladağ, allowing Eldorado to continue to provide employment and economic opportunity in the region, as well as provide a solid foundation for future growth.

“Kışladağ has been the cornerstone asset of Eldorado for over a decade, producing over 3 Moz of gold and generating significant value for all stakeholders during that period. This project is a testament to our exceptional team and technology partners working together to execute in challenging circumstances during the pandemic.”

Weir Minerals expands the Cavex 2 hydrocyclone range with 650 model

Weir Minerals, building on over 20 years of Cavex® hydrocyclone experience, has added the Cavex 2 650 to its product line, with the cyclone set to deliver unparalleled results, the company says.

The release follows the recent launch of the Cavex 2 hydrocyclone, which brought with it the introduction of a LIG+™ inlet and chamber design that, the company says, produces a more stabilised flow pattern, further reduces turbulences and friction throughout the hydrocyclone and provides up to 30% additional capacity.

The latest 650 model has undergone years of research, lab testing and in-field testing to ensure it can withstand the rigours of heavy-duty industrial and abrasive applications. It also addresses the continual demand for increased operational and circuit capacity, and offers customers process improvements combined with digital technology, Weir Minerals said.

“It is important to note that enhancements of the hydrocyclone performance go hand in hand with improving the environmental footprint of the equipment,” the company said.

“By reducing bypass returning to the mill, fewer fines are returned back to the mill in a closed-circuit milling process, thus reducing the need for energy to be used to further process particles that are already small enough to move on to the next stage. This frees up mill capacity, previously used up with fine particles, for the size reduction of larger particles.”

As a hydrocyclone that can make a finer separation, the Cavex 2 650 can operate at a lower pressure for further energy savings or a higher feed density for water savings, while maintaining the existing cut size from the hydrocyclone, according to the company.

And, finally, using equipment with a higher volumetric capacity requires fewer units to be installed upfront as well as fewer consumable spare parts used over the life of the hydrocyclone.

Significant benefits to mining customers include:

  • Increased operational and circuit capacity up to 30%;
  • Maximised plant recovery by reducing the quantity of misclassified particles with an average improvement of the alpha parameter of more than 10%;
  • Improvements in bypass with an average of over 15%;
  • Opportunity to retrofit Cavex 2 650 cyclone into existing cyclone cluster footprints;
  • Less turbulence during the separation process due to the LIG+ inlet and elongated chamber design;
  • Enhanced performance with a Synertrex®-enabled monitoring system, which can detect roping or blockage conditions in advance for continuous, efficient operation of the hydrocyclone; and
  • Improvement of environmental footprint.

To satisfy all process conditions and slurry types, the Cavex 2 650 hydrocyclone comes with a range of material technology options including Linatex® premium rubber, R55 rubber, neoprene for high levels of hydrocarbon and ceramic.

The Cavex 2 650 hydrocyclone can be customised to suit almost any application with a variety of spigots, vortex finders and cone angles, according to the company.

These new hydrocyclones have already been put to the test, with the latest Cavex 2 650 hydrocyclone trial taking place with a customer in Chile. The testing was conducted in a large copper ore mine which had a SAG mill in a closed circuit with the cyclone cluster. The trial tested one Cavex 2 650 in a six-place cluster of existing Cavex cyclones and saw an improvement of up to 48.5% in circulating load and 31.7% in water bypass versus the original cluster, according to Weir Minerals.

A lab water test with the same hydrocyclone fittings as above also yielded positive results: a 211 mm inlet and 260 mm vortex finder delivered 16% more capacity at 100 kPa, and 17% more capacity at 250 kPa.

“These improvements in efficiency and bypass translate to increased savings for brownfield sites where the existing hydrocyclones do not have enough capacity and are maxed out, while greenfield projects benefit from savings in capital expense,” the company said.

The Cavex 2 650 hydrocyclone is the second in a range of standard sizes that Weir Minerals is planning to release, with more sizes in development to expand the current product range.

Weir Minerals, Henkel develop industry-first adhesive for rubber lining applications

Weir Minerals, manufacturer of Linatex®, a leading brand of premium natural rubber, has partnered with adhesive producer Henkel and its team of LOCTITE® adhesive, sealant and coating specialists, to develop what it says is a mining industry-first solvent-free adhesive for rubber lining applications with zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

VOCs are carbon-based, organic chemicals often used in adhesives, paints and coatings. They are subject to strict regulations, with some governments aiming to limit worker exposure while others target large-scale emissions in order to improve air quality. Mining companies also target VOC emissions as part of their sustainability strategies.

In collaboration with Henkel, Weir Minerals developed the LINATEX LOCTITE – LINA 88™ cold-bonding rubber adhesive range in response to the growing need for safer and more sustainable products. Complementing the Linatex rubber products, this breakthrough in adhesive technology reflects Weir’s core values of safety, sustainability and performance, is says.

With new LINATEX LOCTITE – LINA 88 products, cutting down the VOC emissions does not mean having to compromise on performance, according to Weir. The custom-formulated rubber adhesive range sets a new industry benchmark for bond strength by exceeding the current British Standard by up to four times, and is significantly stronger than other products presently used in mining, it says.

“We’ve had many customers across the globe approach us to help them find ways to improve safety for their employees,” Mark Doyle, Global Product Manager – Linatex Rubber and Hose, says. “At Weir Minerals we take safety very seriously and looked at several possible solutions. Our team worked closely with the LOCTITE experts and developed an adhesive that is stronger than any other product in the market today with the double benefit of being solvent-free with zero VOCs.

“Coincidentally, many mine sites and even regional governments are now starting to mandate that only adhesives with zero VOCs be used on site – we are thrilled to say that we have a product that meets this challenge.”

Safety and sustainability focus was the main driver of the project, according to Ricardo Garib, Weir Minerals Division President.

“Working with Henkel to develop an adhesive that not only outperforms what is currently on the market, but also delivers environmental and safety benefits, is a fantastic result for mine operators and their employees,” he says. “Weir Minerals promotes a safe environment for everyone; we consider it a priority for our customers and our own people in our service centres where we line minerals processing equipment with Linatex rubber. With sustainability as a key issue within our industry, we are proud to be at the forefront with innovative new products.”

Mark Dorn, Senior Vice President Craftsmen, Construction & Professional, for Henkel Adhesive Technologies and President of Henkel Asia Pacific, added: “It’s always exciting to pioneer new solutions for our customers that are able to deliver on both innovation and sustainability. Being able to positively impact environmental and occupational safety for those in the mining industry is definitely a rewarding accomplishment for the team.”

Dr Nigel Fay, Corporate Vice President, Innovation & Application Engineering, for Henkel Adhesive Technologies, says: “Delivering this breakthrough innovation to the market is representative of the mission that the LOCTITE business has delivered on for nearly 70 years. It’s about leveraging our expertise, our passion for innovation and our focus on solving the most difficult challenges to create new value for customers. Having the opportunity to bring this to life in collaboration with another industry leader like Weir Minerals has been extremely satisfying and is a true model for future success in the area of innovation.”

The new LINATEX LOCTITE – LINA 88 adhesive range has undergone extensive trials in the APAC region, exceeding customer expectations, Weir says.

Weir Minerals says it will be specifying the new solvent-free and zero VOCs products for all its Linatex applications around the world.

The entire range is non-flammable and is, therefore, safer to use, easy to transport and does not require any special handling or storage facilities, according to the company. It can also be sprayed over the top of rubber lining to provide solid UV protection.

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.

Weir Minerals pairs Multiflo, Warman and ESCO technology in latest slurry pump

Weir Minerals has launched the new Multiflo® Mudflo™ hydraulic submersible slurry pump, engineering the pump to, it says, tackle abrasive applications and large particle handling.

The Multiflo Mudflo pump features a hydraulically driven wet-end specifically designed to efficiently and safely reprocess and relocate tailings ponds, maintain water retention dams and manage slimes and sludge ponds.

It combines the Warman® MGS pump-end, Multiflo CB32 hydraulic cutters and ESCO® excavation teeth to provide efficient pumping of highly charged and abrasive slurries, the company claims.

Weir Minerals’ Ultrachrome® A05 chrome alloy impeller ensures high wear resistance and the specially engineered suction strainer minimises the risk of clogging by preventing large solids and debris from entering the pump. Drawing on decades of Warman pump design experience, the Multiflo Mudflo pump is capable of pumping between 150 cu.m/h and 1,200 cu.m/h, up to 82 m head.

The Multiflo CB32 hydraulic cutters feature the ESCO Ultralok® tooth system to prevent premature breakage, avoid tooth loss and protect the integral locking system to ensure the continuous operation of the pump, it says.

Engineered by the Weir Minerals dewatering pump experts in Australia, it is available for global customers from July 2021.

Cameron Murphy, Director of Dewatering Weir Minerals APAC, said: “The Multiflo brand is synonymous with high quality and long-lasting equipment. In designing the Mudflo pump, our dewatering experts drew from the very best Multiflo, Warman and ESCO technology and used advanced hydraulics to create an innovative and cost-effective new solution for mine dredging applications.”

The product was developed following close customer collaboration and a mutual commitment to safety and technical excellence, Weir Minerals said.

Geoff Way, Weir Minerals Dewatering Specialist, said: “It is not uncommon for sites to use a combination of pumps, shovels, excavators and trucks for dredging applications. When one of our long-time partners in Indonesia contacted us about developing a custom solution for the slurry build-up in their sumps, we knew we could provide a better solution. We are problem solvers. We considered our customer’s pain points and engineered a new solution to efficiently and safely manage their site processes.”

The Multiflo Mudflo pump can also be retrofitted to competitor OEM equipment, Weir Minerals says, with the quick-hitch plate attachment ensuring convenient installation and removal from hydraulic excavators.

The Multiflo Mudflo pump can be assembled on land, eliminating the safety risks associated with assembling pumps over water. Furthermore, the new hydraulic hose management system reduces the risk of hose entanglement and trip hazards, all the while providing a reliable hose bend radius to ensure smooth oil flow.

NioCorp working with Weir Minerals, NRRI on Elk Creek HPGR test work

NioCorp Developments Ltd is to initiate testing of Elk Creek project ore using high pressure grinding rolls (HPGR) technology from Weir Minerals.

HPGR technology is considered an energy efficient and low-emission alternative to conventional processing for reducing the size of the ore to enable the recovery of niobium, scandium, titanium, and potential rare earth products, NioCorp said.

The use of this technology in the project reinforces the company’s commitment to the environment and designing a sustainable operation, it added.

The testing is being conducted at the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, in partnership with Weir Minerals. During the testing, which is expected to take several weeks, around 3 t of Elk Creek drill core will be reduced to the 1-mm size needed for hydrometallurgical test work.

Working with Weir Minerals, NRRI acquired an industrial-scale Enduron® HPGR to carry out testing on a variety of ores with this process back in 2020. This is the only large scale HPGR dedicated to research in the US, NRRI claims.

“The network is expected to provide key data that will be used to properly size the HPGR unit for the potential ore throughput at the Elk Creek project, once project financing is secured and the project is operational,” NioCorp said.

The company is currently evaluating the next steps in its overall metallurgical test work program, which will focus on optimising and streamlining the existing processing flowsheet as well as establishing process routes for the potential recovery of rare earth products. The rare earth products that are of most interest to the company are, at present, neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) oxide, terbium oxide and dysprosium oxide. As previously announced, the company has launched a review of the economic potential of expanding its currently planned product suite from the project to also include rare earth products.

An April 2019 feasibility study on Elk Creek, in Nebraska, USA, estimated average production of 7,220 t/y of ferroniobium, 95 t/y tpa of scandium trioxide and 11,642 t/y of titanium dioxide over the 36-year mine life.

Scott Honan, NioCorp COO, said: “After witnessing testing at NRRI, I was impressed with how the HPGR was able to handle the Elk Creek ore quickly and efficiently, with minimal noise and dust.

“We look forward to completing this phase of the test work and moving on to look at further improvements to the existing flowsheet, including our new emphasis around the rare earths.”

Weir ESCO takes advantage of expansion opportunities in Utah, Quebec

Weir ESCO’s growth trajectory has continued in 2021, with the ground engaging tool (GET) major capitalising on two fast-moving expansion opportunities in western USA and eastern Canada in the March quarter.

The acquisitions represent exciting new platforms for sales and brand recognition growth in the two regions, according to the Weir subsidiary.

With one of ESCO’s largest dealers, based in the Western US, set to retire last year, Weir ESCO decided to fill the void.

The company explained: “Without the dealer to represent us, our future with a significant mining operation in the region – a mine that generates approximately 11% of annual copper production in the US – was at stake.”

The mine’s cable shovels are outfitted exclusively with ESCO GET and multiple other pieces of equipment, including hydraulic machines and front-end loaders, are also fitted with ESCO products.

The company’s teams jumped into action to secure the business, with the new Salt Lake City branch becoming operational in early January. It got right to work establishing a direct service relationship with the key customer, Rio Tinto Kennecott, and expanding market share with other mining and infrastructure companies customers in the territory, the company said.

Up north in Canada, the launch of Weir ESCO’s Quebec branch resulted from seizing a timely, high-stakes opportunity, as well, the company said.

Quebec is home to Canada’s largest operating open-pit gold mine, Canadian Malartic. The mine employs more than 2,000 workers around the clock and many pieces of equipment are outfitted with ESCO GET, according to the company.

“When changes in the local distribution channel occurred, Weir ESCO began considering how to parlay the situation into market expansion opportunities,” it said.

Weir Minerals, a division of the Weir parent company, already had an established presence in the area, presenting additional synergy opportunities.

By the end of January, Weir ESCO’s new Quebec team was on board and sharing office space with the Minerals branch (office pictured).

As in Salt Lake City, the Quebec branch will focus on growth through a direct service approach with customers, it said.

Pete Huget, Managing Director for North America, said: “This is an energising time for us as we move with more speed and agility to take advantage of market opportunities to grow the business. We are looking forward to capitalising on these opportunities to service our own customers directly. No one can service a customer like an ESCO employee.”

Weir releases new gate valve as it advances Terraflowing, ToolTek solutions

Weir Minerals has released a new Isogate® WR knife gate valve to reduce cycling discharge while improving wear life.

The lightweight, long-lasting Isogate WR knife gate valve offers miners and aggregates operators alike a step change in valve performance, according to Weir Minerals.

The release came on the same week Weir Group announced its 2020 financial results, which saw the company report revenue and adjusted operating profit of £1.97 billion ($2.73 billion) and £305 million from continuing operations, respectively. These figures were down 4% and 3%, respectively, from 2019 totals.

On the new valve, Weir said: “Incorporating the latest advances in design and materials technology from Weir Minerals’ expert engineers, the range of Isogate WR knife gate valves are more reliable, while producing minimal fluid discharge and weighing considerably less than equivalent mining valves.”

John Abbott, Global Product Manager – Valves & Tailings, said: “Drawing on decades of wear analysis, we’ve optimised the Isogate WR knife gate valve’s body design, by reinforcing the areas subjected to the harshest wear and pressure. At the same time, we have reduced the weight elsewhere to produce a robust, long-lasting mining valve that’s significantly lighter than comparable products.

“The weight reduction can be especially significant in situations where a number of valves are used on a specific installation, such as in a hydrocyclone cluster, or where lightweight piping systems are used.”

The gate has also been redesigned, with stronger materials resulting in a thinner gate that can still withstand the pressure of mining slurries. This combines with the valve’s unique gate guide that, Weir says, reduces deflection by ensuring smooth gate movement and less strain on the sleeve elastomer during blade transition.

The Isogate WR knife gate valve uses Weir Minerals’ new Isogate WSL sleeve, which comes with proprietary Linard® HD 60 silica-reinforced natural rubber to solve the three most common problems with sleeved knife gate valves: leakage during cycling, tearing and load distribution ring (LDR) failure due to corrosion and erosion, the company explained.

Leveraging the Linard HD 60 rubber’s high resilience against cut, tear and abrasive wear to improve wear life, the new Isogate WSL sleeve fully encloses the LDR to prevent corrosion. By allowing the rubber to move with the blade cycles, the design reduces the chance of tearing while reducing slurry discharge by up to 75%, according to Weir.

The Isogate WSL sleeve can also be used in existing Isogate WS knife gate valves, improving wear life and decreasing discharge on cycling.

Abbott added: “When designing the Isogate WR knife gate valve, we focused on features that improve the everyday experience of working with our valves. This includes important things like improved grease distribution and improved body flushing when used on high solids concentration applications.

“In-depth finite element analysis enables us to ensure the product’s integrity, while making it lightweight. There are also a lot of smaller features to make life easier, such as a larger grease reservoir, ISO mount standardisation and an external visual indicator for the valve’s status.”

Other notable developments from Weir Group’s 2020 financial results included the first order for ESCO’s ToolTek™ system.

This collaborative effort with key mining customers provides enhanced safety for maintenance personnel during the replacement of worn Nemisys® points and adapters, according to ESCO. It features a hydraulic crane mounted tool that is remotely operated, well out of harm’s way during the replacement of worn components. New parts are pre-staged on racks  positioned on the flatbed truck outfitted with the hydraulic crane. The truck also features a recycle bin for safer disposal of worn parts.

Alongside this, Weir said in 2020 it installed the first pilot Terraflowing® plant at a customer’s mine site designed to cost-effectively reduce water in tailings, enabling this waste product to be safely stored or repurposed.

Terraflowing incorporates a two-stage cyclone dewatering process followed by centrifugation of the final stage of cycloning overflow. In the process, three dewatered tailings streams are produced: a primary cyclone underflow, a secondary cyclone underflow and a centrifuge pulp. These three streams can be combined or used in different configurations depending on the end use of the tailings stream, according to Weir Minerals.

This three-stage system offers the flexibility to make provision for variations in mineralogy and particle size distribution as well as the opportunity to recover ‘tailings as a resource’, it added.