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A clearer view on thickener research

Ritchie, I.M. and Farrow, J.B. (2000) A clearer view on thickener research. In: After 2000 the Future of Mining: Impact of New Technology and Changing Demands on the Mining Industry, 10 - 12 April, Sydney, Australia pp. 186-193.

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The AJ Parker Cooperative Research Centre for Hydrometallurgy carries out research on behalf of, and in collaboration with, the Australian mining industry. As might be expected, much of its research is directed towards improving the efficiency of alumina and gold processing plants. However, the Centre also carries out research of relevance to base and other metal producers. A key element in its work is the successful transfer of its technology to the companies with which it is working. In general, this is achieved in the following five steps: 1. definition of the problem through discussions with the company commissioning the research; 2. execution of the research; 3. assessment of the research findings; 4. testing of the research findings by pilot plant or on-site trials; and 5. implementation of the results on the full-scale. This pattern is exemplified by the work carried out by the Centre to improve the performance of gravity thickeners which are used throughout the minerals industry for solid-liquid separation. The research has focussed mainly on ways to optimise the use of flocculants (long chain polymers) to enhance thickener performance. It has been shown that the way the flocculant is mixed with the slurry is of profound importance. Computational fluid dynamics modelling of the feedwell region of thickeners and laboratory and plant flocculation studies have been used to determine better ways to contact the flocculant with the feed slurry. Implementation of these and other findings on the full-scale confirmed that improvements in thickener performance were indeed possible. As a result of this AMIRA funded thickener technology work, there have been considerable savings to a number of Australian mineral processing companies, through improved operation, higher throughputs and flocculant savings.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Parker Cooperative Research Centre for Integrated Hydrometallurgy Solutions
Publisher: Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
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