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MEI Online: Control & Instrumentation: Latest News: January 20th 2006


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:: Mintek Control System Boosts Anglo Gold Plant

Mintek, specialists in mineral and metallurgical research and development (R&D), technology transfer and beneficiation, recently sold their first LeachStarTM system for gold circuits to Anglogold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine near Carltonville.

The LeachStar process control system was successfully integrated with the existing instrumentation of the mine’s gold treatment plant. Installation of this predictive technology has resulted in improved plant stability and substantial savings in the consumption of cyanide and flocculent, two strategic reagents in the gold extraction process.

"The installation of LeachStar enabled the Mponeng Gold Plant to achieve two of its main objectives: a steady feed from the thickeners to the leach, and significant savings in reagent usage as result of improved control and field measurement failure correction," said Rudi Steyn, plant manager of Anglogold Ashanti’s Mponeng Gold Plant. "In the past, when the field instrument failed, the default condition was to add excess reagent, however, using LeachStar the default is based on that day’s historical process requirements, which eliminates spiking of reagents. An added bonus is that the new system has also greatly improved carbon management."

"Mintek is delighted with the performance of its LeachStar control system at the Mponeng mine," said Gareth Smith, control engineer leaching, milling and flotation at Mintek. "The LeachStar suite of controllers incorporates leading technology to optimise the performance of the various process units found on the gold circuits, including thickeners, leaching and carbon circuits. Mintek is continuously developing innovative technology and novel instrumentation for extractive metallurgy."

Cyanide, which is produced and supplied locally by SASOL, sells at about US$1200 per ton on the open market. Apart from being an expensive but vital part of the gold extraction process, the use of cyanide must be carefully monitored and controlled for safety and environmental reasons.

LeachStar is one of a family of advanced process control (APC) systems developed by Mintek to enhance the operation of a number of different metallurgical operations.

"Mintek is currently supporting more than hundred APC installations worldwide, the largest concentration of which is on the African continent," said Dr Dave Hulbert, manager of Mintek’s Measurement and Control Division. "Our Star Control System (StarCS) is a widely applicable software platform with modules aimed specifically at metallurgical processes. Mintek has developed specific solutions on the StarCS platform to address typical mineral-processing control challenges in the areas of milling (MillStarTM), flotation (FloatStarTM), furnaces (FurnStarTM) and leaching (LeachStarTM)."




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