Home > Turnkey thickener conversion offers cost efficiencies at Saraji coal mine

Turnkey thickener conversion offers cost efficiencies at Saraji coal mine

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A turnkey conversion project at Australia's Saraji coal mine will see the latest high rate Outokumpu SUPAFLO thickening technology installed in existing equipment for less than the third of the cost of a new unit.

The agreement between Outokumpu Technology's Service Division and BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) at Saraji will involve converting an existing magnetite clarifier to a flotation concentrate thickener, saving millions of dollars in the process.

Project activity culminated during a 14-day shutdown in October 2005, taking a fraction of the several months usually needed to build a new thickener of this size.

It also involved less site disruption and production went back online sooner, says Outokumpu Technology Customer Support Manager, Jason King.

The conversion is Outokumpu Technology's latest success in the ongoing enhancement of production efficiencies at the Saraji mine, which is one of Australia's largest coal mines, with production exceeding 5mt a year of high-grade coking coal.

In 2004, Outokumpu Technology installed a 35m thickener for Saraji's coal tailings duty. This thickener was designed to replace an existing concrete thickener and provided higher efficiencies within a smaller footprint.

Jason King says the latest order was a great endorsement of the company’s technology and people.

This latest turnkey thickener package will deliver major production benefits while saving several millions of dollars.

The turnkey conversion included full design, removal of existing equipment, civil construction and installation of the high rate thickener and all peripheral works, such as piping, pumps and all associated structural and mechanical works.

Electrical installation recommissioning, and operator training and familiarisation also form an important part of the scope.

Benefits of this turnkey conversion include:

* Major cost savings - a fine coal thickener was provided at a cost comparable with a slimes thickener

* Higher percent solids delivered to filtration. By increasing current per cent solids of 20-25% to over 35%, the new installation will substantially enhance filtration and dewatering of product

* Less site disruption, with production back online far earlier

* Removal of the magnetite clarifier from the circuit, permitting installation of high-efficiency climax-style counter-current separators

* Use of the supernatant water at the top of the thickener as wash water for flotation units

* Commonality with the fines circuit at the nearby BMA Peak Downs mine, enabling experience gained there to be passed on to Saraji.

The conversion project will be completed in two stages, with civil works in advance of shutdown, followed by thickener conversion during the 14-day shutdown.

Full-time site management will be handled by one of Outokumpu Technology's experienced Construction Supervisors, who also holds Queensland-recognised safety management qualifications.

Outokumpu SUPAFLO high rate thickeners reduce surface areas by up to 90%, compared with older, more conventional designs. Their patented low-drag rake arm is designed to increase reliability by reducing the torque loading on the drive.

The product’s reliability is also enhanced by a proven hydraulic drive with four levels of system protection, as well as a robust control system.

(Released by Outokumpu Technology in August 2005.)

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