A turnkey fresh water recovery plant has been installed by Outokumpu Technology to optimise environmental benefits at BHP BiIliton’s Finucane Island facilities at Port Hedland in Western Australia.
The plant, incorporating SUPAFLO high rate thickening technology, is integral to the plant expansion, which forms part of BHP Billiton’s rapid growth project No3, which will increase annual iron ore sales capacity by approximately 20 million tonnes.
Successful completion of the order, just 29 weeks from award to commissioning, was announced by the Outokumpu Technology in Australia, which said the solutions delivered by the company were tailored to the strict environmental standards of BHP Billiton, which targets zero harm from its developments.
Operating on a design and construct basis, including all construction, mechanical and structural works, Outokumpu Technology’s turnkey package comprises a 15m SUPAFLO high rate thickener, feed trommel, flocculant mixing plant, clarified water storage tank and more than 1.6km of pipework and associated valving.
Designed to cope with fluctuating feed rates that change from minute to minute, the system screens process water and filters solids, then removes the thickened tailings, before routing the process water to the clarified water storage tank for recirculation throughout the plant. Tailings, meanwhile, are carried by the pipework system to the plant’s tailings dam.
Not only were the project’s technical requirements quite demanding from an environmental perspective, but Outokumpu Technology’s delivery of a complete turnkey system on time, on budget and with an safety record also proved challenging.
Given the extremely tight delivery and installation schedule, the project is a credit to the smooth partnership between BHP Billiton, the EPCM Engineer (the Mine and Port Development Joint Venture, a joint venture between Fluor Australia and Sinclair Knight Merz) and Outokumpu Technology’s team, led by Jason King.
According to Outokumpu Technology, they have already successfully delivered a turnkey thickener at BHP Billiton’s nearby Nelson Point facilities as part of an earlier expansion project, thereby establishing familiarity with Outokumpu Technology’s technology, personnel and partnership approach to doing business. This familiarity further contributed to smooth progress at Finucane Island. Ongoing benefits at Finucane will include operator familiarity with the technology from a maintenance and training perspective and also similarity of spares.
The thickening technology on the Finucane project is engineered for low maintenance even while accommodating fluctuating feed rates and feed material that is difficult to settle. Featuring a unique flanged design for quick and safe installation, SUPAFLO thickening technology gives special attention to the design of feedwells, rake profiles, and control strategies to meet the challenge of dewatering materials that are often problematical for normal thickeners. The design and engineering of the Finucane Island thickener draws of the global experience of Outokumpu Technology in such areas as testwork, installation, operation and service. Outokumpu Technology operates in more than 40 countries.