Magotteaux’s pulp chemistry monitor made a big impression at the 2016 Prospect Awards, winning the Minerals Processing of the Year award. Magotteaux’s Dr Christopher Greet tells Australian Mining about how the technology has developed since.
Magotteaux is a company with a lot of history, celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020.
In that time, the company has seen massive transformations in technology and business practices, and has continually reinvested itself to meet the relentless and changing pace of industry.
Over the past decade, the significance of the mining industry to Magotteaux’s business has increased markedly with the largest portion of its income coming from this sector. This means the business must move with the changing dynamics of the industry.
Winning an Australian Mining Prospect Award for its pulp chemistry monitor (PCM) in 2016, a system that allows for real-time, online measurement of key pulp chemical parameters (pH, pulp potential, dissolved oxygen, temperature and oxygen demand), has illustrated how Magotteaux is investing in an innovative business pathway as a process optimisation service provider.
According to Magotteaux Australia manager minerals processing research Dr Christopher Greet, winning the Prospect Award was well received within the company.
“There was quite a bit of excitement at the head office in Liège in Belgium,” he tells Australian Mining. “They saw this as a tremendous positive, and vindicated its investment in technology to improve our Chemillurgy approach — a real feather in the company’s cap.”
Since winning the award, Magotteaux has continued to develop PCM, making it ready for the international market.
Greet says since the mining industry’s pick up over the past 12 to 18 months there has been a cautious optimism in the air.
Mining companies, he says, are still reluctant to spend capital, but are very interested in improving their processes. They are, however, exploring new technologies that can improve productivity, albeit slowly.
“The mining industry doesn’t like change — it’s very conservative,” Greet explains.
“But the reality of falling feed grades, the need to be more energy and water efficient is forcing the industry to seriously investigate new technologies for crushing and grinding, ore sorting and coarse particle flotation.
“I was at the Comminution 2018 conference in Cape Town recently, and there were some very interesting technologies discussed as alternatives to conventional crushing and grinding like the VeRo Liberator and Vertical-Roller-Mill, which reportedly have remarkable size reduction capacity and are conducted dry. It is suggested that these machines offer considerable savings in energy and water consumption.”
However, Greet says other technologies, such as the rejection of gangue minerals through ore sorting and the introduction of coarse particle flotation, will significantly alter the characteristics of the feed entering the flotation circuit.
“It is probable that gangue rejection in the mine will increase feed grades, which in base metal sulphides means pulp chemistry will become increasingly more important in achieving a saleable concentrate grade,” Greet says.
“PCM is well placed to assist in this space. Coarse particle flotation means that the concentrate produced during rougher flotation will require significant size reduction to liberate the valuable minerals from the waste prior to cleaner flotation so that a saleable concentrate can be produced.
“That is, regrinding often the forgotten part of the flotation plant will gain more importance and Magotteaux have expertise and products that fit into this space.”
Sustainability is also important to Magotteaux and the company is well-placed to meet the present needs of the mining industry.
It is also looking beyond to see how we need to adapt to these new technologies and flow sheet designs, Greet adds.
“For this reason Magotteaux is the only grinding media supplier who can supply forged steel, high chrome and ceramic grinding media to the mining industry,” Greet says.
“We also know our customers are looking for something beyond the commodity we sell – they are looking for a partnership where we can help improve their process with our solutions and products.
“PCM is one of the technologies we are working on that can be used to understand the chemistry of the system and optimise the separation process. We think that the pulp chemistry can be used to better utilise reagents in flotation and leach circuits, which should offer cost savings as well as improvements in metallurgical performance.”
Magotteaux is in discussion with a number of sites where it hopes to test PCM’s capabilities.
For example, the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea; Magotteaux hopes to use chemistry to optimise the cyanide consumption at the 95 per cent-owned Barrick Gold operation.
Other mine sites are also apparently keen to utilise PCM in unison with a change from forged to high-chromium grinding media, Greet continues.
“We can actually start monitoring changes in pulp chemistry, which is a positive thing because quite often companies just look at wear, they don’t look at the chemistry and subsequent metallurgy,” he explains.
“This will give them the ability to see changes live as they convert from one media to another.”
Overall, Magotteaux is a technology-based company and PCM is a good fit, as well as positive way forward, for the industry in the future.