Rougher Flotation Cell Pulp Level Control to Increase Recovery

Additonal authors: . Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Ferra, Mark

Flotation is used in mining to produce concentrates of copper, gold and several other valuable ores. In 2017, a copper mine near Globe, Arizona improved their rougher cells productivity using technically advanced electro-hydraulic actuators in the flotation process by enabling excellent tank pulp level process stability. The new actuators controlled the dart valve position to allow pulp to leave the cell. Tank cell pulp level can change due to feed and discharge fluctuations from neighboring tanks. When traditional pneumatic actuators are used, they have sluggish response times and overshoot due to the inherent physical property of air being compressible. Electro-hydraulic actuators have the benefit of hydraulic stiffness to deliver accurate and repeatable (0.1%) dart valve positioning. The froth layer has more opportunity time to maximize mass transfer into the launderer. The results are an increase in copper recovery by 2-4%. INTRODUCTION In 2013 there was an international flotation technical conference well attended by respected flotation specialists for both mining companies and academia. During the technical session a leading metallurgist was discussing pulp level measurement and said that when he was on the cell deck he stated, pneumatic actuators air cylinders stroking up and down. The presenter then claimed with confidence that "I listened to actuator move so the pulp level in the tank was being controlled!" No one questioned his assumption and I can assert that the audience was quite technical and not shy in their critiques of speakers. The flotation community simply believed that the existing pneumatic technology was enough with no alternative. Having a stable flotation cell pulp level is critical to effective copper recovery. Controlling pulp levels in flotation cells is a complex task that includes modulating dart valves in each cell. The use of REXA Electraulic actuators will decrease the process dead time and maintain froth height in a controlled manner, especially from pulp slurry volume fluctuations from neighboring cells. By reducing flotation cell pulp level tank height variation, a copper mine in Arizona has realized a 2-4% recovery improvement by increasing the froth transfer to the launderers in the rougher cell circuits compared to pneumatic actuators. This paper examines the benefits of using an electro-hydraulic actuator to ensure proper pulp level control and reduce the process operational cost. It will focus on actuator positioning the dart valves to maintain pulp level setpoint at a copper mine in Arizona.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019