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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

Print version ISSN 0038-223X

Abstract

KNIGHTS, B.D.H.; SATYRO, J.C; DIAS, R.A  and  DE ARAUJO FREITAS, A.C. Performance improvements provided by Mintek's FloatStar™ advanced control system on reverse flotation of iron ore. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2012, vol.112, n.3, pp. 203-209. ISSN 0038-223X.

In November 2009 Mintek installed the FloatStar™ advanced flotation stabilization system on Vale's Cauê iron ore beneficiation plant in Brazil. In September 2010 the system was upgraded to include flotation optimization. The circuit consisted of two parallel cleaner circuits producing final concentrate. The tailings from the cleaner section passed through a scavenger circuit. Large, well-instrumented feed sumps played an important role in circuit stability, presenting a good opportunity for advanced control. Previously the plant was controlled using distributed control system (DCS) level control only. The flotation circuit processes roughly 30kt/day. The FloatStar system provided advanced control of the flotation circuit as well as of the sumps feeding the circuit. The system underwent a lengthy trial to assess the benefit that it provided. Two data sets were analysed, showing performance under advanced stabilization and optimization respectively. Several validation and consistency criteria were employed to ensure the quality of the analysis. Iron recovery and iron tailings grade were used to measure system performance. The analysis showed that the system increased recovery by up to 2.7%. In addition, the system decreased the iron tailings grade by between 1.2% (from 23.5% to 22.3%) and 4.3% (from 31.3% to 27.0%) during different test campaigns. The analysis also showed that the entire FloatStar stabilization system was active for 72.7% of the time from first activation to the end of the first data set (approximately 200 days). From the analysis it was concluded that under similar conditions for 'ON' and 'OFF' tests, the system provides a clear benefit. It was also found that over the longer term, the system continues to provide a benefit. This finding suggests that the results were not simply due to a short-term advantage. The size of the data set, as well as the magnitude of the recovery improvements, lends considerable confidence to these results. Therefore, it can be concluded that the FloatStar control system provides substantial benefit to operations at this site.

Keywords : iron ore; reverse flotation; advanced process control; FloatStar.

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