Processing excellence category

ABB Australia is again sponsoring the Minerals Processing Plant of the Year award.

ABB Australia is again sponsoring the Minerals Processing Plant of the Year award.

Environmental initiatives, high productivity and a commitment to safety are all recognised in the Minerals Processing Plant of the Year Award.

The category recognises excellence in innovative processes, new technologies and techniques.

Last year’s finalists included HIsmelt Rio Tinto which developed the world’s first HIsmelt plant and Australia’s largest private research development project.

The direct smelting technology smelts iron ore fines from Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s mines in the Pilbara to produce a premium grade iron product and a new source of low cost iron feed stock for electric arc furnaces.

2007 Winner

Alcoa’s Kwinana Refinery was recognised as the Minerals Processing Plant of the Year for its environmental initiatives and high productivity.

Kwinana Refinery increased production, and improved safety performance, achieving zero Lost Time Injuries in both 2005 and 2006.

The company says the key to the refinery’s performance was rapid improvement and an effective employee engagement program. The program developed management systems throughout the refinery, and promoted a high level of employee involvement in problem solving and management of work areas.

Alcoa also achieved a greenhouse breakthrough at Kwinana, with an innovative waste treatment process that is locking up 70,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.

Known as residue carbon capture, the process adds CO2 to the mix of minerals left behind when alumina is extracted from bauxite. Until now, bauxite residue has required long-term storage because, although it is thoroughly washed, it retains some alkaline liquor from the refining process. A Kwinana-based Alcoa research team found that mixing CO2 into the residue reduces its pH level to the levels found naturally in some alkaline soils. This opened the path for its re-use as road base and soil amendment.

2006 Winner

Rio Tinto’s Hunter Valley Coal Preparation Plant won the 2006 Minerals Processing Plant of the year for their ability to improve coal yield and reduce water use.

The Hunter Valley Coal Preparation Plant was already meeting industry standard performance metrics. However, in the spirit of continuous improvement, Rio Tinto planning and improvement superintendent Luke Dimech identified three control systems which had room for improvement: dense medium control, thickener control and receival throughput control.

However, making improvements to plant technology can often result in extended plant downtime.

With this in mind, Matrikon software and Rio Tinto came up with a prototyping methodology that would ensure that they were 100% confident that any new control strategy would work on the process, before any modifications were made to the existing controllers’ code.

For information on this category, email jessica.darnbrough@reedbusiness.com.au or call Jessica on 02 9422 2909.

Entry in the awards is free.

Entries close Friday 27 June.

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