The Asia Miner

JUL-SEP 2019

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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the asia miner • volume 16 • issue 3 8 LEADING DEVELOPMENTS render the fluorite surface water-repellent (hydrophobic). Air is then pumped into the mixture, creaঞng small bubbles that carry the hydrophobic parঞcles to the surface. The fluorite thus accumulates in the resulঞng foam while the waste rock is le[ behind. Before the laer can be deposited on a waste dam or returned underground as a filling material, a dewatering step is needed. In order to achieve the desired concentraঞon of fluorite, flotaঞon is repeated several ঞmes, which consequently requires a lot of water. "Mining companies are trying to reduce their consumpঞon of water by using it mulঞple ঞmes," says Mr Michaux. "However, used water contains substances that can interfere with the process performance, and that is something to be avoided." Examples of such substances would be calcium and magnesium ions, which hamper the hydrophobisaঞon of the fluorite surface. The potency of this effect depends on the concentraঞon of the ions. The new method now takes into account the influence of the chemical composiঞon of the water on the flotaঞon. As a result of extensive laboratory experiments with a fluorite ore, the researchers obtained data that reflected the complex interacঞon of the dissolved substances and integrated them into the HSC Sim simulaঞon so[ware. HSC Sim is already used in the mining industry to map the processing plant and to control mineral beneficiaঞon process. DIGITAL MONITORING OF WATER AND ENERGY CONSUMPTION "With the addiঞonal features we developed, the so[ware is now able to take into account the composiঞon of the process water," explains Mr Michaux. "This enables the possibility of recycling the water without compromising the process efficiency." The simulaঞon also allows operators to opঞmise the use of different water reservoirs in the vicinity of the mine such as lakes, rivers, aquifers or the sea. Further process steps, such as the grinding and dewatering of the ore, are to be integrated in the future. In an ideal scenario, water consumpঞon could then fall below 1,000 litres per tonne of ore. The research team hope to subject the new method to a pracঞcal test in an actual mining operaঞon very soon. "As this requires a fully digiঞsed treatment process in which sensors are conঞnuously measuring and reporঞng the properঞes of the streams to process control, it is only larger mines that will venture such an investment at this early stage," adds Mr Michaux. "The potenঞal of digiঞsaঞon is, however, enormous. Real- ঞme monitoring and truly intelligent process simulaঞon make it possible to extract more raw materials while using less energy and fewer natural resources." This applies to all ores and not just to the recycling of water in fluorite processing, for which the simulaঞon method was developed by the HIF team. B. Michaux, J. Hannula, M. Rudolph, M.A. Reuter, K.G. Van den Boogaart, R. Möckel, P. Kobylin, M. Hultgren, M. Peltomäki, A. Roine, A. Remes: Water-saving strategies in the mining industry – The potenal of mineral processing simulators as a tool for their implementaon, in Journal of Environmental Management, 2019 (DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.11.139)

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