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MEI Online: Control & Instrumentation: Latest News: June 30th 2009


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:: Laser Sampling First from Outotec at Paraburdoo Iron Ore

The first iron ore installation in Australia of Outotec PSI® 500 particle size analyser has entered service with Rio Tinto Iron Ore at Paraburdoo, in the Pilbara.

The installation - which is also one of the first PSI® 500 iron ore installations in the world - is designed to save time, labour and money while increasing product quality and value in highly competitive markets.

The on-stream Outotec PSI® 500, which uses laser diffraction technology, provides real time particle size analysis, essential to maximising throughput and recoveries, says Outotec’s Application Engineer - Automation in Australia, Mr Brian McPherson.

“The PSI® 500 system, selected by Paraburdoo to reliably and continuously monitor feeds from the cyclones to the thickener, gives infinitely better process control than typical intermittent manual sampling methods. This user-friendly automation technology increases production value by enhancing output quality and reducing downtime," he explains.

One of the main reasons why PSI® 500 technology was selected for Paraburdoo is its highly reliable monitoring. With 80 cyclones per stream, the cyclone overflow reporting directly to the thickener, and tailings pumped 7km, it was critical to ensure correct cyclone operation at Paraburdoo. Dependable monitoring is vital for mass recovery and optimized thickener/tailings operation.

“The analyser is also one of the few in the market which can actually cover particle size measurement in the 1-500um range. It monitors particle size distribution and therefore cyclone performance. Also, laser diffraction is a well-established, proven technology, delivering greater precision for particle size analysis.

“Particle size monitoring and control increases average throughput and reduces particle size variability in grinding circuit products, leading to easier thickening as there is a more consistent feed."

Paraburdoo’s two-stream PSI® 500 installation uses a pair of two-stage samplers to monitor thickener feed from four modules of cyclones. The installation was designed and commissioned by Outotec with Rio Tinto Iron Ore Plant Projects Co-ordinator, Mr Brady Stump.

Outotec PSI® 500 technology was selected because of advantages including:

  • Highly reliable monitoring
  • Particle size measurement from 1- 500um
  • Ability to accommodate varying specific gravity of solids at Paraburdoo, whilst still not affecting accuracy in measurement.
  • Robust and compact technology requiring a very small footprint.
  • Proven technology - laser diffraction offers greater reliability than most other technologies and measurement techniques.
  • Stand-alone configuration, able to monitor and control its own sampling system. Normally the sampling system is controlled by a Distributed Control System (DCS), so the PSI® 500 installation cost is lower due to no configuring and cabling costs.
  • Operator friendly - the unit is simple to use and capable of measuring manual samples (random samples can be added).
  • Calibration is not required.

Outotec also provided additional services to facilitate the brownfields installation at Paraburdoo, which was challenging in terms of existing structure and plant layout. Outotec supplied the equipment platform, consulted with site management on the ideal location and provided localised training to optimise system performance.

“The site is to be congratulated on being the first in Australia to install a PSI 500™, a decision which shows real foresight in terms of enhanced measurement accuracy and quality control, and Paraburdoo’s enlightened managers will soon reap the financial benefits," says Mr McPherson.




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