Outotec participated in a project at CSA Mine involving the replacement of 30 existing scavenger flotation cells with their own TankCells as part of upgrades in the mine’s flotation circuit.
CSA Mine is an underground copper mine located in Cobar in Central Western NSW. Operated by Cobar Management Pty Ltd (CMPL) and employing more than 300 people, CSA Mine extracts over 1,100,000 tons of copper ore and produces in excess of 180,000 tons of copper concentrate per annum.
Outotec was represented at the project site by a team led by Peter Gillies, Project Manager, Outotec South East Asia Pacific.
Having worked together in a previous project, CMPL and Outotec decided on a collaborative partnership approach that would deliver not only processing benefits, as the replacement flotation technology was state-of-the-art, but also ensure open communication between the two parties.
Originally, Outotec was to replace ageing scavenger cells in the flotation circuit with new Outotec TankCells (3 x TankCell 30s). Although the flotation circuit at CMPL incorporated equipment from other suppliers, flotation technology from Outotec was chosen for the upgrade.
Outotec TankCells are renowned in the industry for their performance, ease of operation and reduced power and air consumption. The initial scope developed into a far more comprehensive supply with CMPL soon requesting that Outotec supply engineering, design, install and commissioning of the flotation cells in addition to additional ancillary support for instrumentation, external launders and some piping work.
Though concrete foundations were initially planned for the footprint, the two companies decided on a more cost effective solution that involved upgrading the existing steelwork for the cell installation. This change came late in the project, demanding detailed planning and a dedicated teamwork approach to complete the install in a short time. The upgrade was further complicated by a limited footprint and also the layout of the installation, as demanded by the process.
According to Derek Beehan, Ore Processing Superintendent at CMPL, the harsh conditions including dust, confined space, high temperature and working in an operational environment made the work more difficult. Further challenges arose due to factors such as limited crane access.
The flotation cells had to be designed in sections no heavier than two tonnes to facilitate an overhead travelling crane. The restricted footprint also imposed a maximum height limitation, affecting not only the cells but also the support steelwork for the cells. An appropriate design was also required from a maintenance perspective for easy serviceability.
The installation of Outotec’s flotation cells commenced in mid-October 2010 and was completed end-December 2010, with commissioning in early 2011.
Key benefits for CMPL from the Outotec flotation cells installation:
- Reduced risk of cell structural failure causing unplanned downtime
- Accommodates the fluctuations in feed grades and throughputs due to a more stable control system
- 40% energy savings from using only three 45 kW motors with the new technology versus 15 motors drawing a total of 225kW previously, saving nearly 90 kW
- Significant savings on maintenance with the 30 existing scavenger cell mechanisms replaced by only 3 Outotec mechanisms
- Significant reduction in spare part costs
- No unscheduled maintenance required on the new Outotec TankCells
Since the time of the installation, copper feed grade has decreased from an average 4.9% in 2010 to an average 4.0% in 2011. Both the overall copper recovery at 96%, and the final concentrate copper grade remained constant, despite the lower feed grade.
This is a significant result, indicating an improvement in circuit stability and performance. Copper recovery is expected to improve when the copper feed grade returns to 2010 levels.
The close partnership between CMPL and the Outotec Services team produced clear benefits in overcoming initial challenges and delivering a key project on time and on budget. CMPL hopes to work with Outotec on future upgrades as well.
Outotec is a leading technology and solutions provider to the global mining industry, specialising in mineral processing and metal production.