New tailings research facility in Port Melbourne

Weir Minerals has announced a new technology investment in Australia, which the company says will aid the development of tailings-based products and solutions for the Australian mining industry.

The investment in a new facility now known as the Weir Technical Centre (WTC) in Melbourne will house a team focussed on tailings products as well as pipeline transport systems.

Weir Minerals Regional Managing Director for Asia Pacific said Terese Withington said the company was responding to customers that had been looking for solutions for the safe transport, storage and disposal or use of tailings as a resource.

“As an extension of our ongoing tailings solutions activities led by our experts in Venlo in the Netherlands, we aim to help our customers reduce their environmental impact including a reduction in the use of water, and recycling or using their tailings by converting them into construction materials,” she said.

The tailings and pipeline systems (TAPS) research and development can also specify systems for handling surface tailings, concentrates, ore and water, as well as the production and transport of concrete for the construction industry.

“To help our customers minimise their environmental impact, our TAPS research and development can also help specify for the manufacture and transport of backfill products from tailings, and the recovery of water from tailings slurries,” Withington said.

General Manager Operations and Development of WTC Nils Steward said he was pleased to be working with the global Weir Minerals group.

“The team in Port Melbourne will continue to provide the services our existing customers know and expect and all on-going and future projects will be seen through to completion,” he said.

“We are very excited by the opportunity for continuous improvement in providing innovative solutions for our customers with Weir Minerals.”

The closed loop pipeline at the WTC will allow Weir Minerals to monitor flow rates, temperatures, pressures, solid concentrations and power requirements through the system.

In addition, hydrocyclone, centrifuge and dewatering technologies can be extensively tested in house, where research and development activity will help Weir’s customers determine the best solution for their specific site, helping to reduce their costs and risk.

“The research analyses and predicts the behaviour of all slurries, and can report on flow behaviour, rheology, laminar flow settling and dewatering and separation of slurries through cyclones, centrifuges and vibrating screens,” a spokesperson for Weir said.

“Using the data generated by the WTC test loop, our specialists are able to specify tailings products and plant development to suit our customers’ site-specific environmental and operational conditions, as well as perform transient and stress analysis for pipeline installations and evaluation of materials and fittings.

“We can help our customers reduce risk by providing them the opportunity to perform pilot plant test work using equipment similar to that which would be used on their site.”

Nils Steward said power consumption was often the single biggest expense in minerals production, but “by utilising the technology available through the WTC, we can provide analysis to determine optimum pipeline configuration which includes appropriately sized pumps, motors and pipes to reduce the amount of energy wasted in slurry transportation.”

“Reducing energy waste is beneficial not just to the operators bottom line, but to the environment,” he said.

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