When you consider that a commercial metallurgical laboratory will charge $20,000 to $30,000 per day of piloting and a pilot trial will run a 7 to 15 days; buying your own offers some cost benefits.
When mining companies are confronted with the difficult decisions on advancing and exploration project to the feasibility and construction stages, it has always been their dream to know with greater certainty how various regions of the ore body will react in the milling and concentration processes. While band scale and test work is common and inexpensive, the results and information provided are somewhat limited due to the difficulty in accurately predicting the effects of recirculating streams or gradual changes in solution chemistry.
Conventional pilot plans provide the detailed engineering data required to develop a final process flow sheet. However, they are expensive to set up and operate and are only viable for larger projects that are well advanced. Associated with conventional pilot plans are the high-cost of sample acquisition due to the quantities that are required. The difficulty of obtaining samples representative of deposit in various ore types and the potentially high cost of sample disposal.
To address the limitations of the band scale test, and the high cost of the conventional pilot plant, 911metallurgist.com has developed an innovative solution, called the Mini Flotation Pilot Plant. The Mini Flotation Pilot Plant or MFPP produces the same type of engineering data as the conventional plant, but at a fraction of the operating costs, since the MFPP requires a relatively small amount of sample ore and minimal personnel to operate.
The Mini Flotation Pilot Plant permits flotation testing with continuous flows, similar to traditional pilot plants. But is designed to make use from samples obtained from exploration drilling campaigns. Modular in design, the heart of the MFPP is comprised of: the flotation module, the continuous regrind pin mill, the column flotation module and the reagent dispensing system which can have up to 16 precision chemical dosing pumps. The flotation module consists of 12 flotation cells, modelled after the standard Denver D12 laboratory cell and uses the same impeller and tank design. As well, each cell has individual level control. The products of each cell are moved to the next using peristaltic pumps.
Auxiliary components include the batch grinding mill; ergonomically designed to reduce material handling and turnaround time for grinding large samples, with a nominal capacity of up to 20kg per batch. The slurry holding tank, the Mini Flotation Pilot Plant feed tank and optional computer system for data logging and control. The scale of equipment handles feed ranges from 5-15 kilograms per hour. A high level of instrumentation is also included to permit digital logging of pilot plant data and replication of conditions from test to test.
Instrumentation includes: variable speed froth paddles, impeller speed measurement and variable speed slurry transfer pumps.
Does not include: precision reagent addition
With the Mini Flotation Pilot Plant, the ore can be subjected through the following treatment stages: grinding, rougher and scavenger flotation, regrinding of concentrate tailing streams, cleaning of reground product, scavenging of cleaner tailings, recleaning of the concentrate. Furthermore, the flexibility in arranging circuits in the MFPP means that various flow sheets can be tested. The merit of testing using either conventional Pilot Plant or Mini FlotationPilot Plant is that both these methods can test the process on a continuous basis, which is of major importance to the investor. When the two are compared, we start to see the differences. The MFPP allows for greater operational flexibility, allowing optimization for working conditions during execution.
Since the Mini Flotation Pilot Plant is designed to use samples obtained from exploration campaigns, different ore zones and blends of ore zones can be tested. The amount of ore required for testing is significantly less. For example, a conventional plant may require more than 15,000 kg of ore for a 5-day campaign. Compared to only 1,000 kg for a Mini Pilot Plant. The MFPP requires fewer personnel to run and operate, comparable to the less expensive Ben scale testing. And even though less ore is required for the Mini Flotation Pilot Plant, comparative tests performed on both methods show that the results obtained from the MFPP are comparable to that of the conventional Pilot Plant.
The Mini Flotation Pilot Plant has already been used successfully by, comparative tests performed on both methods show that the results obtained from the MFPP are comparable to that of the conventional Pilot Plant.
While providing data equivalent to conventional pilot plants, it allows mining companies to substantially reduce cost by eliminating the expenses associated with acquisition of large bulk samples, reduced time to make decisions by simplifying sample acquisition, reduce risk by having the ability to do more testing to assess or variability through using a variety of samples obtained from an exploration program. Minimize environmental impact, since extracting large amounts of ore is not required.
Given today’s need for quick decisions, tighter exploration budgets, higher confidence in production performance estimates and environmentally-friendly operations, the Mini Flotation Pilot Plant is destined to be the future for mineral processing plant design.