Deconstructing CDE’s modular approach

Mining is demanding more economically sustainable ways to operate sites. CDE’s wet processing plants meet this demand for Australian and international operations.

Many of Australia’s mine sites operate in some of the most dry and desolate regions of the country.

A significant ‘Achilles’ heel’ to the expenses of many operations is the cost of water, which often has to be transported significant distances to reach mineral processing plants.

Water usage and transportation costs to sites in areas such as the Pilbara region can take a significant chunk of money out of a mining company’s cash supply.

However, these costs are often seen as insurmountable, with tailings dams used to store water and waste from mineral by-products. Tailings dams remain a common feature at mine sites across Australia.

CDE has spearheaded alternatives to traditional tailings dams for a number of years through its wet processing plants, which have the ability to recover up to 98 per cent of water for reuse during minerals processing through various dewatering technologies.

CDE head of mining business development Adam Holland says the company’s award-winning wet processing plants combine economic and environmental sustainability in its cost-effective solutions approach.

“Our wet processing plants are bringing environmental and economically sustainable solutions to the mining industry as a result of many years of innovation and diversification from related materials processing sectors,” he tells Australian Mining.

“Meeting environmental challenges in a cost-effective way is possible through CDE’s unique modular approach whilst also providing the ability for mining companies to add, remove or augment modules offline to react to feed material or product specification changes in a flexible manner. CDE is really quite unique in being able to offer economic sustainability and flexibility on top of the environmental sustainability aspect.”

The company has earned the tried and trusted investment of mining companies internationally, with tailings management representing a significant area of interest. Brazil was one of the first countries to implement CDE technology for tailings dewatering in early 2014 in an effort to reduce reliance on tailings storage facilities.

“In the simplest term, it’s about dewatering of that tailings feed,” Holland says.

“Utilising compact modular technology our processing solutions can effectively de-slime and de-water tails, while recovering quality coarser particles for reuse or resale.

Wet processing allows for optimal recovery, and is complemented by our water recycling system, which ensures we can operate in remote, arid and ecologically sensitive locations.”

And while there are obvious advantages in reducing the requirement for tailings dams, there are many benefits to CDE’s wet processing solutions that can specifically interest Australia’s mining market.

Rather than adopting a traditional, more expensive and less flexible stick build approach for its wet processing plants, CDE’s modular ofering delivers comparable results at a much lower price-point by allowing faster and easier installation in a package that is significantly smaller than traditional processing plants.

“It’s not mobile but certainly moveable. If you set up your plant at a dam and you’re reprocessing what’s in the dam for dry stacking, it is possible to set that plant up, operate it for a period of time and then break it down, move it and recommission it,” Holland says.

CDE’s modular approach allows for complete deconstruction and reconstruction of a minerals processing plant, which has been achieved on sites in America in under two weeks.

As a modular plant, CDE’s wet processing plants include equipment such as the company’s AquaCycle, which has the ability to recycle wastewater at a rate of up to 90 per cent. Further recovery is then possible through the addition of further filtration modules.

Another staple of a CDE dewatering plant is its EvoWash machine, which uses cyclone technology combined with the company’s infinity screen range as a method of separating fine materials while dewatering courser sand sized particles. SIMEC Mining was an early Australian adopter of CDE’s wet processing plants, installing two of them for its South Australian iron ore operations.

“Initially, the return on investment justification to SIMEC was based around the value that the CDE modular approach brought to the company, rather than a ‘stick build’ approach,” Holland says.

“A traditional stick build plant was unviable for SIMEC due to the level of capital expenditure required. While there was value to be gained from their waste stockpiles, SIMEC knew they needed a novel method for processing and approached CDE to design a custom solution.”

Holland believes a huge advantage of the CDE modular approach is the ability to change the plant’s configuration and operating parameters easily and quickly to cope with any production changes, which SIMEC have done as a result of a continually changing legacy waste feed material.

“The benefit here is that ability to react to changing feed, meaning the plant consistently performs at maximum productivity to produce a 63 per cent grade iron ore, even as the characteristics of the feed change.”

Holland concludes that he looks forward to positively widening CDE’s mineral processing envelope through challenging projects that are currently moving through design stages in the fields of manganese, rare earth mineral sands and gold, to name a few.

This article also appears in the July edition of Australian Mining.

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