Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy]]> vol. 112 num. 11 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Journal Comment - Paste and Thickened Tailings</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Pretoria Branch - SAIMM technical evening 26 September 2012, University of Pretoria</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Outotec and Western Cape Branch</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>PASTE 2012 15th International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings 16-19 April 2012, Sun City, Pilansberg, South Africa</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Measurements on freshly-deposited surfaces of two platinum tailings dams</b>]]> As part of an investigation of possible water-saving measures at Anglo American Platinum's Mogalakwena Mine in Limpopo, South Africa, a study was made of conditions on the wet beaches of two adjacent tailings dams, each serving a separate plant on the mine. For one of the dams, a special catamaran was designed and constructed to enable the full length of wet beaches to be accessed and sampled immediately after a layer of tailings had been deposited. For the other dam, the wet beach was accessed using conveyor belting and scaffold planks. The length of the beaches was 400 m on the first dam, and 200 m on the second, and each was sampled at 50 m intervals. The parameters reported in this paper, for both beaches, are: ► Water content profiles along each beach from the surface to as deep as 2.5 m, at times ranging from 12 hours to 6 weeks from the end of deposition ► Particle size distributions at the surface, down the full length of the beaches ► Measurements of feed relative density, tonnage and volume, decant and drain flow volumes, as well as rainfall and evaporation for both dams. The surface water contents shortly after deposition have been used to establish the relative density of the settled, decanted tailings and its variation down the beach. This data, combined with the decant and drainage flows, is used to establish the calculated and actual water recoveries from both dams. <![CDATA[<b>Perceived and realized benefits of paste and thickened tailings for surface deposition</b>]]> Interest in the potential use of high-density, thickened tailings has recently increased significantly. Reasons for considering this new technology vary across projects, but commonly include the need to conserve water, perceived lower risk of catastrophic failure, potential easier closure, or even reduced overall costs. As with any new technology, there has been some tendency to overstate its potential benefits. This paper reflects on whether or not the potential benefits that have been attributed to paste and thickened tailings have been realized. Using a grading system, thirteen benefits that were ascribed to the new technology some years ago are evaluated. Data is taken from case studies, and it is suggested that the key proven benefits appear to be reduced operating costs in some cases, reduced wall-building costs, and reductions in water consumption. One key potential benefit that has not been universally achieved is a reduction in the footprint of the tailings facility. Reports in the literature highlight the sometimes confusing nature of trade-off studies. Unless full life-of-mine costs are considered, these studies can be misleading and incorrect. The need to establish a consistent basis for comparative studies is discussed. <![CDATA[<b>Putting beach slope prediction into perspective</b>]]> The storage capacity of any given tailings storage facility (TSF) is a function of the volume available for the tailings, for which the geometry of the final upper surface of the tailings is most important. One of the advantages that can be obtained from thickening tailings prior to discharge is that the tailings can be stacked at a steeper beach angle than is obtainable with conventional low-density slurries. However, there is at present no universally accepted method available for the accurate prediction of tailings beach slopes. This paper examines the current situation with the objective of putting the quest for a method for the accurate prediction of beach slopes into perspective. The paper references published reviews of the best-known beach slope prediction methods. However, there do not appear to be any independently verified projects or published references to projects on which a Class A prediction has been validated for any of these approaches, and in those instances where projects have been implemented correlation of actual with predicted slopes has been poor - often due to differences between the properties of the tailings assumed in the design and those actually achieved in the field. The author also concludes that flume-scale testing cannot be taken as a reliable indicator of full-scale performance, and suggests that the outcome of any current predictive method should be used by experienced practitioners as only one of a range of indicators in order to suggest a range of slope angles likely to result for any given operation. Practice has shown that it is possible to manipulate beach slopes by changes to the disposal technique, such as limiting the rate of discharge per discharge point and by increasing or decreasing yield stress, but the impact of these changes cannot readily be predicted. There are also newly emerging technologies, such as the injection of a polymer into the tailings at discharge, that will enhance the dewatering of tailings and hence expedite the consolidation of the tailings, that could well facilitate the development of steeper beach slopes. The overall conclusion is that with the current state of knowledge, the accurate prediction of beach slopes is not possible. Furthermore, in view of the inherent variability of the tailings parameters from any operation, it may well be of more value to concentrate on developing an understanding of the means by which the tailings parameters may be manipulated by the operators to achieve a given beach slope than to concentrate wholly on developing a generic beach slope prediction model. <![CDATA[<b>Important considerations in the testing of high-density tailings for beach profile prediction</b>]]> The authors have conducted several investigations into the prediction of the beach profile of high-density tailings and have found that there are a number of important considerations that need to be taken into account over and above the reliability of the beach profile prediction methodology. These considerations relate to the chemistry of the slurry and specifically the influence of pH and flocculation, both of which have a significant influence on the rheology of the slurry at the discharge point. A number of examples are discussed and a potential testing protocol that will assist in assessing the influence of chemistry ahead of the beach profile predictions is presented. A methodology for assimilating the results of the testing into the likely field situation is discussed, and suggestions are made on application of the results in beach profile prediction. The suspected influence of residual flocculation on the stratification of the tailings slurry as it flows down the beach is also discussed. <![CDATA[<b>Design and development of a novel thickener feedwell using computational fluid dynamics</b>]]> The feedwell performance in gravity thickeners and clarifiers relies on the efficient mixing between solid particles and flocculant to achieve effective flocculation, as well as energy dissipation of the incoming feed stream. A population balance-computational fluid dynamics (PB-CFD) model has been developed and validated to provide new insights into the operation and performance of industrial feedwells. In particular, the PB-CFD model enables the efficacy of the main functions of a feedwell to be investigated for a wide range of feedwell designs and process conditions. This paper describes how PB-CFD was used in the design and development of a new feedwell concept for the flocculation of particles in a solid-liquid stream. The patented feedwell design includes an upwardly converging flow diverter to create two separate compartments for energy dissipation and flocculation. PB-CFD simulations of this simple and easy-to-retrofit feedwell design illustrate a superior performance in terms of flocculation and energy dissipation compared to typical feedwells over a wide range of flow conditions. The potential benefits include reduced flocculant consumption, better de-aeration, greater stability and the ability to cope with a wider variation in volumetric throughput, better flocculation and fines capture, and a more symmetrical discharge that may also offer improved overflow clarity in some applications. The new feedwell design has been installed in a full-scale thickener at an Anglo American Platinum site in South Africa. A number of operational factors complicate this application, but indications are that the new feedwell has led to improvements in stability and underflow properties. <![CDATA[<b>Evaluation of the behaviour of high-density tailings deposition -CODELCO pilot plant</b>]]> CODELCO is considering the implementation of high-density tailings management at the Chuquicamata mine in northern Chile for its long term disposal plan. To achieve this, CODELCO commissioned the design, construction, and operation of a 70 t/d pilot plant, fed by existing tailings. The testing programme was completed in May 2011, and consisted of laboratory rheological and characterization assessments, pipe loop testing, beaching trials, and analyses of deposition behaviour for solid contents ranging from 57-68% (w/w). This paper describes the characteristics of the pilot plant, the testing programme, the beach trial analyses, and the resulting beach profile predictions based on the stream power theory. CODELCO also used other predictive beach slope methods, such as the equilibrium slope concept, which are not discussed in this paper. The final beach profile for design will be selected after an expert analysis of all methods has been completed. <![CDATA[<b>The performance of centrifugal pumps when pumping ultra-viscous paste slurries</b>]]> Significant advances have been made in the design of centrifugal slurry pumps that are used for pumping high-density viscous and paste slurries. This paper presents the results of a series of centrifugal pump performance tests that were conducted using an FLSmidth 6 x 4 Krebs millMAX centrifugal pump. The pump was fitted with a dry mechanical seal to prevent dilution of the slurry from gland service water, as the rheology of the slurry is sensitive to small changes in slurry density. Tests were done using paste kaolin slurry with Bingham yield stress values between 578-1 120 Pa and plastic viscosities between 728 and 1 491 mPa.s. The viscous properties of the paste during each pump test were measured using a rotational viscometer. Pump head and efficiency de-rating were measured and compared to the correlations of Walker and Goulas (1984). The test data shows the pump's best-efficiency point (BEP) changes and shifts to the left of the performance curve. The pump efficiency decreases as the slurry yield stress increases. The head de-rating data shows more head de-rating at the low flow rates compared to the high flow rates for the high viscosity slurry, which is in line with the findings of Walker and Goulas (1984). This paper demonstrates that it is possible to pump very viscous, high yield stress slurries with limited head and efficiency de-rating using centrifugal pumps, provided that positive suction conditions are maintained at all times. <![CDATA[<b>Towards an integrated approach to tailings management</b>]]> Tailings management aims to dispose of tailings at the minimum cost consistent with meeting or exceeding imposed standards, including legislative obligations. This simple business objective requires managing the tailings storage facility (TSF) risks associated with surface water, groundwater, dust, sustainable closure, and potential catastrophic failure. The individual nature of every orebody and specific site topography ensures that no 'one size fits all. It has been suggested that paste and thickened tailings (P&TT) provides the ability to tailor the production and transportation of tailings to suit the deposition site, rather than the traditional approach of accepting that the deposition site has to accommodate tailings of high variability. While the traditional approach can be made to work, it is directly linked to the catastrophic failures of tailings impoundments, where large volumes of decant water have triggered failures due to overtopping, piping or slope instability, or saturated tailings have simply liquefied. P&TT offers an ability to mitigate these risks, and when implemented into new projects with variable tailings streams there are significant benefits to be realized. This paper identifies the interdependencies between the various tailings disposal processes, such as thickening, pumping, and deposition. It demonstrates that there are benefits in taking a more integrated approach to the design and operation of tailings disposal facilities. A collaborative industry project to tackle this challenge is described. <![CDATA[<b>Transferring sampling errors into geostatistical modelling</b>]]> Geostatistical modelling aims at providing unbiased estimates of the grades of elements of economic interest in mining operations, and assessing the associated uncertainty in these resources and reserves. Conventional practice consists of using the data as error-free values and performing the typical steps of data analysis -domaining, semivariogram analysis, and estimation/simulation. However, in many mature deposits, information comes from different drilling campaigns that were sometimes completed decades ago, when little or no quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) procedures were available. Although this legacy data may have significant sampling errors, it provides valuable information and should be combined with more recent data that has been subject to strict QA/QC procedures. In this paper we show that ignoring the errors associated with sample data considerably underestimates the uncertainty (and consequently the economic risk) associated with a mining project. We also provide a methodology to combine data with different sampling errors, thus preserving the relevant global and local statistics. The method consists of constructing consistent simulated sets of values at the sample locations, in order to reproduce the error of each drilling campaign and the spatial correlation of the grades. It is based on a Gibbs sampler, where at every sample location, the actual sample value (with error) is removed and a conditional distribution is calculated from simulated values at nearby sample locations. A value is drawn from that distribution and kept only if it satisfies some statistical requirements-specif-ically, the global relative error and local means and variances must be reproduced. All sample locations are visited and simulated sample values are generated iteratively, until the required statistics are satisfactorily attained over all sample locations. This generates one realization of possible sample values, respecting the fact that the actual samples are known to carry an error given by the global relative error. Multiple realizations of simulated sample values can be obtained by repeating the procedure. At the end of this procedure, at every sample location a set of simulated sample values is available that accounts for the imprecision of the information. Furthermore, within each realization, the simulated sample values are consistent with each other, reproducing the spatial continuity and local statistics. These simulated sets of sample values can then be used as input to conventional simulation on a full grid to assess the uncertainty in the final resources over large volumes. The methodology is presented and demonstrated using a synthetic data-set for clarity. <![CDATA[<b>Using simple statistics to define confidence limits for reliable quantitative definition of mineral resources - the Venmyn Variance Tower</b>]]> In recent times, there has been criticism of the minerals industry over the lack of quantifiable boundaries between Inferred, Indicated, and Measured resources. A recent initiative through the United Nations aims to try to converge the mineral resource classification systems. Since the oil and gas industry uses a probabilistic approach to defining reserve boundaries, it is appropriate to introduce a similar statistical methodology for minerals. The Venmyn Variance Tower has been developed based upon traditional statistics to utilize historical and ongoing information in order to quantify variance of geological and chemical parameters and the boundaries and logic for quantitative mineral resource classification. It is proposed that a less than 50% variance from the mean of all sample parameters is required to achieve the classification threshold to define an Inferred Resource whereas between 20-10% is needed for an Indicated Resource and less than 10% variance from the mean is needed to declare a Measured Resource. These limits are similar to those used by the oil and gas industry, and it is suggested that these thresholds be adopted as an industry standard to ensure consistent quantitative reporting. While this process is intended to use statistics of an orebody to provide quantifiable and defendable boundaries, it cannot be carried out unless the geology of the mineral deposit is understood and the borehole samples can be categorized into appropriate populations for which the statistics are valid. This means that competent geologists are always required to work with and understand the implications of the Variance Tower results. This paper is intended to form the basis of a series of publications that establish a process to take mineral projects along a quantifiable and logical development path. Hence, no specific field example of the practical application of this process is given here. <![CDATA[<b>Design and implementation of a multimodal transportation cost analysis model for domestic lignite supply in Turkey</b>]]> Transportation cost is the dominant cost and accounts for almost half of the total mining cost in surface mining. Therefore, determining transportation cost is critically important for the economic feasibility of mining projects. Turkey produces around 85 million tons of lignite per annum. The biggest state-owned company, Turkish Coal Enterprises (TKI), accounts for 43 per cent of the country's total lignite production. Around 85 per cent of the produced lignite is used in power plants for electricity generation and 15 per cent is used for domestic heating in cities and urban areas. On behalf of the Turkish government, TKI distributes around 2 Mt of lignite annually, at no cost to poor needy families countrywide in accordance with Social Assistance and Solidarity Funding aid. Subcontractors are utilized for lignite transportation, and conflicts arise due to the different transportation cost calculations at different mines. A robust model that provides unbiased cost estimations is therefore of paramount importance. This paper presents the transportation cost estimation software, NAKMAL, that has been developed for estimating the transportation cost of lignite from the mine face, including excavation and loading, to various final destination points through five different transportation scenarios. NAKMAL was designed using Visual Studio.NET, validated using field data and some case studies, and it is currently being used by TKI for calculation of transportation cost country-wide. <![CDATA[<b>Open access to metallurgical publications</b>]]> Technical publications in the field of mining and metallurgy have existed for a long time. Recent developments in electronic publishing on websites make it possible to disseminate information more widely and cost-effectively than before. Professional societies have an opportunity to serve their members and their industry by publishing high-quality peer-reviewed papers on their websites as well as in printed form. Older publications can be scanned, and optical character recognition used to provide searchable text. Various business models exist around this process. This paper outlines the approach used by the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM) to provide free open access to their journal papers and conference proceedings, as well as the work being done by to collect technical papers from a number of international societies and make them available to subscribers via a large database. An approach is outlined that should be of benefit to authors, readers, and society at large.