TPH/Cubic Metre - An Alternative View on High Density Thickener Design & Geometry

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

Minson, David

On many occasions, operators have seen that high density and paste thickener performance does not meet the initial design expectations, and the installed equipment produces lower than expected thickener underflow solids content. This lower-density tailings slurry leads to more water and lower beaching angles being seen at the tailings storage facility (TSF). This not only reduces storage capacity, but also increases the risks of non-compliance with environmental permit constraints. Reasons for the shortfall in performance can be many, but perhaps the main problem is inadequate understanding of the critical components of thickener design and operation, with too much reliance placed on standardised design terminology; such as tph/m2. This paper discusses additional factors that influence high-density thickener operation and presents test work that defines “Dynamic Slurry Fluidity”, “Bed Compaction Rates”, and “Natural Slump Angles” for these high yield stress/viscosity slurries. Finally, the paper uses this data to define thickener geometry, drive torque, floor slope(s), rake blade configuration and how this can be used to provide engineers with more tools for in depth evaluation of a High-Density thickener design. INTRODUCTION Generally copper mines are high tonnage operations, with copper flotation concentrators producing high volumes of tailings slurries of milled solids and water. As a result, Tailings Storage Facilities (TSF) become very large and this, along with potential scarcity of water, favours a design that maximises storage space. In theory, the use of filtration equipment that achieves immediate water recovery, high TSF in-situ densities and high stacking angles are preferred for this duty. However, large tailings filter units are uncommon, and have high operating and capital costs that favour the use of thickeners. The use of high-density thickeners to produce a thick or near-paste like slurry with high un- sheared yield stress values above 100 Pascals, is becoming more common. The higher thickener underflow is required to not only maximise water recirculation within the mill, but to also increase beaching angles, maximise tailings storage capacity and minimise evaporation losses arising from large areas of superficial water. However, the reliability of this equipment is also under scrutiny and there is perhaps a need to better define these designs.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019