Increasing flotation cell sizes

To answer market demands FLSmidth installed and will soon test the world’s largest flotation cell at the Robinson Mine, Robinson Nevada Mining Company, KGHM International. The 600 Series SuperCell™ will be used as a rougher-scavenger in the copper flotation circuit.

The economies of scale are forcing flotation cells to keep getting bigger—and more efficient. Until recently, the FLSmidth® 300 series SuperCell™ flotation machines, developed in 2009, was the largest in the world with a capacity of 300-350 m³. But in 2011, FLSmidth decided to take this product line to the next level and started the development process of the new generation of flotation cells. What was unthinkable 10 years ago has become reality today. Concentrators are now being designed for a capacity of 200,000 tpd, and are becoming new trends in flotation plant design. Now instead of having a large number of cells per row, the average concentrator has between five and seven, which makes these enormous machines more desirable on today’s market. Already, five major mining houses are inquiring about these cells. In addition to new, large throughput plants, these cells are especially attractive in a situation where there is limited room for expansion in existing large-capacity plants.

Because of economical factors, lack of space for expansions and reduced maintenance requirements, customers default to the largest size of flotation cells, as was evidenced with the 250 m³ and 300 m³ machines. The market always responds to the largest available flotation cell, as well. For example, a few years ago, before the first 300 m³ SuperCell™ machine industrial test was finished, three plants were sold (1) Esperanza—26 cells, (2) Caserones—23 cells and (3) Polymet—14 cells. A similar situation was happening with our closest competitor when they announced that they developed and water tested 500 m³ machines. FLSmidth decided to skip the 500 m³ size and developed 600 m³ cells instead. FLSmidth’s row of 5 x 600 m³ cells will have an equal residence time to our competitor's row of 6 x 500 m3 cells, allowing for our lower cost and footprint, and continuing our market leadership.

To design the enormous SuperCell™ machines, FLSmidth made computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models of existing cells and scaled them up using dimensionless and hydrodynamic analysis. The 600 series SuperCells™ will use both of the FLSmidth® mechanisms (WEMCO® and Dorr-Oliver®), the XCell™ 600 Series SuperCell™ machine will be developed at a later time. As the name implies, the volume of the 600 Series SuperCell™ machines varies from 600 to 660 m³, depending on launder configuration (600 m³ with inside launders, 660 m³ with outside launders). This design will soon become an exciting reality at the Robinson Mine as slurry startup is scheduled for August 2013.