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:: Thickener Modernization Improves Process Performance in Russia
Installed as part of a wider modernization project at the Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel) Talnakh concentrator in Norilsk, Russia, seven radial thickeners used for middlings thickening were upgraded with Outotec High Rate Thickener (HRT) technology. The upgrade was performed to enable expansion of the crude ore processing capacity without the need to install new dewatering equipment. The upgrade not only increased the efficiency of the existing sedimentation areas, but also ensured consistent density and volume parameters of the slurry materials, which is the key to achieving an efficient flotation process and stable plant operation.
Nornickel is Russia’s leading metals and mining company, and the world’s largest high-grade nickel and palladium producer. The company’s Talnakh concentrator processes rich and cuprous ores from the Oktyabrsky and Talnakh deposits to produce nickel, copper, and pyrrhotite concentrates.
Concentration processes in general consume vast amounts of water. Closing water cycles and applying circulation water supply systems is one of the approaches being taken by concentrator plants to make more efficient use of water resources and prevent environmental pollution. Purifying water from contaminants to the maximum allowed concentration (MAC) level as determined by the local laws for effluent waters represents a significant cost for concentrator plants and increases production costs. The high capital cost of wastewater treatment up to MAC level, unacceptable contamination of the environment, and less stringent requirements for circulation waters make water circulation systems a necessary investment.
The Talnakh concentrator has a closed water circuit. Since 2017, water from the tailings pond, purified mine water, and overflows from the plant’s thickeners are used in the process. The circulation water flows are combined in the storage pond, which is also used for preliminary water treatment, where residual concentrations of flotation reagents are treated using activated carbon and conditioning. The main monitored parameters for circulation waters are pH, concentration of ions affecting flotation efficiency, residual concentration of flotation reagents, and the quantity of oil products and suspended substances.
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