Engineering & Mining Journal

JUL 2018

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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64 E&MJ • JULY 2018 www.e-mj.com PROCESSING SOLUTIONS This year is shaping up to be a busy one for mineral process plant planning, up- grades and technology development. A quick scan of E&MJ's industry news re- ported for the fi rst six months lists a num- ber of plant projects, including: • KCM is investing $600 million to build a new copper refi nery and other process fa- cilities at Nchanga in Chingola, Zambia. • Downer EDI and joint-venture partner Ausenco were awarded a contract by OZ Minerals for the Carrapateena cop- per-gold mine project in South Austra- lia. The scope of work includes engi- neering, procurement and construction (EPC) of a minerals processing plant. • MMC Norilsk Nickel contracted Outotec for the delivery of minerals processing technology and related advisory services to Kola Mining and Metallurgical Co.'s concentrator plant in Zapolyarny, Russia. • KAZ Minerals is building a second sul- phide ore concentrator at its Aktogay open-pit copper mine in East Kazakh- stan province of Kazakhstan. • Kinross awarded a contract for engi- neering, procurement and construction management services for Phase Two ex- pansion of the Tasiast gold mine in Mauritania. The project is expected to increase mill capacity to 30,000 metric tons per day (mt/d). • Vedanta Resources plans to double cop- per production capacity at its Tuticorin copper smelter in southern India from 400,000 mt per year (mt/y), but that project is temporarily on hold pending a high court decision. Although this sampling of industry ac- tivity spans the whole gamut of reasons for plant-related investment and con- struction, ranging from greenfi eld instal- lations to capacity increases for existing operations, there's an underlying theme that connects the intent of many recent- ly announced projects — a drive toward higher productivity. "Today, the mining industry is focused on chasing higher productivity from ex- isting assets," said Jani Puroranta, Met- so's chief digital offi cer. "Benchmarked against other process industries like oil and gas, mining is plagued by low utili- zation of many of its fi xed assets, fl uc- tuating process performance, low-energy effi ciency, and high downtimes. All these are signs of a process with signifi cant im- provement potential." Puroranta, writing in a recent Metso blog post, explained that use of data and AI is now regarded as a promising solution for unleashing this potential. "By collect- ing, analyzing, and acting on process, ma- chine, and sensor data, mining companies hope to identify and control the root caus- es of poor process performance. There is great promise and a lot at stake in turning the processing plant intelligent." He noted there are three levers for in- telligent processing: • Stabilize the process by reducing variability. • Optimize the process against the con- straints (e.g., for higher throughput or improved energy effi ciency). • Maximize equipment availability and uptime. Advanced process control is a set of well-established technologies to address the fi rst two levers. "Taking control of the operations with an expert system that can handle the multivariate inputs and the of- ten-non-linear correlations between pro- cess variables is a must in the complex environment of a minerals processing plant," according to Puroranta. Once the process is under control, it can be opti- mized to be closer to the constraints to yield maximum performance. However, he noted that the third le- ver — maximizing equipment availabil- ity and uptime — often gets too little attention: "No matter how streamlined your process is, if your assets are down, you will lose a lot of production. This is where cloud-based IoT and AI come in." Puroranta said Metso is currently pi- loting its cloud-based IoT solution at minerals processing plants in the USA, South America, Africa and Australia. He said the company's remote-condition monitoring solution has been up and New Process Plant Projects Chase Higher Productivity Levels A major portion of funding for the second phase of expansion at Kinross Gold's Tasiast mine will involve plant modifi cations, including replacement of two current ball mills with a new larger ball mill, and new leaching, thickening and refi nery capacity. (Photo: Kinross Gold Corp.)

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