Innovation continues in minerals processing

Research and Development focused on minerals processing is a segment of the global R&D development programme, where FLSmidth continues to increase project funding and resources dedicated to minerals research and development.

INNOVATION

A major challenge in minerals processing is that the research and development work conducted by FLSmidth must consider the wide variety of minerals, the mineral compounds laid down by Mother Nature, and numerous processing or flowsheet alternatives based on the range of physical and chemical properties of each ore body.

Research projects related to minerals processing typically include:

  • The energy efficient size reduction of mined ores to allow processing.
  • The study of mineral-value liberation mechanisms and improving the separation efficiency through the understanding of the fundamentals.
  • Upgrading the ore to increase the concentration of mineral-value and removing the non-value components from the processing streams.
  • Separation of solids from liquids and organic liquids from aqueous liquids.
  • Improvement of the impact of minerals processing on the environment.
  • New and improved ways to process and recover the wide variety of minerals of value to our customers.
  • CFD modeling to predict the dynamic behaviour of various designs for process equipment.

Research in the above areas leads to concepts for either new equipment or improvements of existing equipment or new or enhanced processing methods.

Getting the job done
The minerals R&D centres are physically located in Salt Lake City, Utah and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA. The staff at these locations interfaces with the other FLSmidth R&D operations in Valby and Dania, Denmark and Chennai, India, sharing ideas and col-
laborating in research projects and finding solutions to problems. The new 5,500 m2 Technology Center in Salt Lake City is on schedule to open later this year in August 2010, and will be featured in the next issue of Highlights.

In addition to internal FLSmidth resources, the research group establishes relationships with various universities to conduct special­ised studies, and also participates in cooperative development programmes with customers.

Recent product launches
New developments released from the R&D programmes include the successful FLSmidth 300m3 Forced Air and Wemco SuperCell flotation cell, the Automatic Filter Press (AFP) 2m x 2m, the Eimco Paste BackFill disc filter, the XL2000 Raptor cone crusher, and the C120P5/6 High Torque thickener drive. These products have been embraced by our customers and are currently being installed on many projects throughout the world.

Ongoing areas of research leading to equipment and process improvements
There are also developments ongoing that we hope will follow the successful path of the recent product launches. One such initiative is the transcendence of the FLSmidth Hydraulic Roll Press from a cement duty piece of equipment to one that will exhibit the durability to operate in the hard ore arena of mineral processing. There has been a significant and concentrated effort within R&D to develop the next generation surface technologies that will enable FLSmidth to become the premier player in the High Pressure Grinding Roll (HPGR) market.

Research does not always lead to new equipment, but leads to new ways of processing, thus improving the economics or environmental impact. Some of the active areas of process research include methods of selective removal of valuable metals from a solution containing numerous metals, some valuable and some considered waste. Another area is focused on increasing the recovery of water from waste tailings to minimise the need for new fresh water to sustain operations. In conjunction with increased water recovery from tailings, the research will also lead to methods for faster environmental reclamation of tailing deposits and lowering the costs of tailings management.