Thyssenkrupp is engaging its engineering prowess to make minerals processing more water, energy and space efficient. Australian Mining looks at how the company achieves this.
Comminution is an essential stage of minerals processing. Whether wet grinding or dry grinding is involved, upstream or downstream, mines need to be able to break down materials to a manageable level.
German industrial company Thyssenkrupp manufactures a series of grinding products for the mining and minerals processing industries, including the autogenous mill (AG) / semi-autogenous mill (SAG), Polycom high-pressure grinding roll (HPGR), ball mill (BM), Velix (vertical stirred media mill), and vertical roller mills (VRM).
Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions Australia head of sales Ben Suda says the company has maintained longevity as a minerals processing provider because it is innovative.
With ore grades in decline and energy and water use a constant concern for mine sites, the company is set to provide forward-looking alternatives.
“At Thyssenkrupp, we constantly strive to address our customers’ challenges through thoughtful design,” he tells Australian Mining.
“Perhaps most importantly, Thyssenkrupp are the only supplier that is technology agnostic in the comminution space as we supply all types of equipment and can recommend the best machine for the job.”
Thyssenkrupp is also responsible for the world’s most powerful gyratory crusher, the KB 63-130. Unveiled at the Bauma event in Germany in April 2016, then later that year at Minexpo International in Las Vegas, the KB 63-130 has a drive rating of up to 1500 kilowatts and weighs 495 tonnes.
Despite possessing a larger mantle diameter (130 inches, or about 3.3 metres) than its predecessor model the KB 63-114, it actually weighs less and maintains the same height as other KB 63 models.
Thyssenkrupp’s gyratory crusher range offers customised spider designs, including ring spiders, split ring spiders, bone-type spiders and even jaw-type spiders for extra-large feed openings.
“Despite its massive throughput and installed power of up to 1500 kilowatt, the KB 63-130 is barely taller than traditional 60-89 designs from our competitors,” Suda adds.
Outside of gyratory crushing, Thyssenkrupp makes its mark with the Polycom HPGR, designed to save energy when compared to traditional AG and SAG mills. Thyssenkrupp’s Polycom HGPR can achieve throughput rates of over 5000 tonnes per hour using around 40 to 50 per cent of the energy required by AG/SAG mills.
A fixture of the cement industry dating back to the 1980s, HPGRs are now an increasingly popular milling solution for hard rock mine sites as well, particularly as a tertiary or quaternary comminution solution.
The system uses two counter-rotating rolls, one of which is in a fixed position while the other is hydraulically pushed to compress the gap between the two rolls during crushing. This compression adds pressure to the system to improve comminution as feed travels through the rolls. While an effective system, HPGRs used in hard rock mining at first suffered from wear issues due to the highly abrasive qualities of the materials involved.
Thyssenkrupp was an early purveyor of the use of HPGRs in hard rock mining, having first introduced four Polycom 24/17 models to the Cerro Verde copper mine in Peru in 2006. This was followed by a Polycom 22/16 at Anglo American’s Mogalakwena platinum mine in South Africa in 2008 and four more Polycom 24/17 models at Newmont’s Boddington gold mine in Western Australia in 2009.
The company’s early endeavours helped springboard the technology’s viability in hard rock grinding, according to Suda.
“Thyssenkrupp, through thousands of hours of testing and working closely with our customers, was able to modify the HPGR concept to deal with harder and more abrasive materials (life time increased from 4000 hours to more than 10,000 hours), as well as improving the serviceability,” he explains.
“The reason that HPGRs are so widely accepted in mining applications now is largely attributable to the success of the Polycom.
“Our HPGR is also an excellent choice in many applications to achieve a dry grind in processes that in the past may have needed wet grinding to achieve similar results.”
Another option for consumers seeking an energy-saving solution is Thyssenkrupp’s Velix unit, a vertical helix stirred media mill developed in cooperation with Eirich.
The Velix is designed to provide a downstream complement to the Polycom HPGR to provide a water-saving wet grinding solution that produces comparable and even finer product than conventional ball mill setups. The vertical setup also means that the Velix has a smaller footprint than traditional horizontally aligned cylindrical mills.
“We optimise the speed of the screw to maximise performance whilst reducing wear, which increases the life of the liners,” explains Suda.
“Perhaps the key benefit of the Velix is the option of significantly larger and higher powered installations than previously available while minimising energy requirements.”
This article also appears in the April 2019 edition of Australian Mining.