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MEI Online: Solid-Liquid Separation: Latest News: May 25th 2004


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:: AMIRA Research Program Delivers Industry $295M

An AMIRA research program has delivered to the minerals-processing industry $295 million in direct financial benefits over the last six years for an investment of about $10 million, an independent evaluation has found. The industry-sponsored AMIRA P266 project to improve gravity thickeners has the potential to deliver an additional $250 million in benefits.

WMC Resources General Manager Technology Dr Robert La Nauze said the research has delivered the most significant and immediate impact of any AMIRA project in which WMC is involved.

The AJ Parker Cooperative Research Centre for Hydrometallurgy, through which the project is being run, commissioned the Strategic Technology Evaluation and Management Partnership to assess the tangible and intangible benefits of the last two phases of the P266 project.

According to STEM's Ivor Bryan, the above figures are a conservative estimate and don't include "&a whole bunch of non-financial benefits".

Dr John Farrow, of the Parker Centre and CSIRO Minerals, and leader of the P266 research team, said the concerted research focus on the performance of gravity thickeners has illuminated their mysterious inner workings. Dr Farrow said: "People think of thickeners as a pretty archaic technology, but there's still much that can be done to make very significant improvements.

Dr La Nauze said company engineers, working with Dr Farrow's team, had used the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model developed by the team to improve flocculant dispersal in a thickener at its Mt Keith nickel operation in Western Australia. The resulting increase in solids concentration, and substantial water savings, had allowed WMC to avoid the significant capital cost of increasing flow from its water bores.

Similarly, at Olympic Dam in South Australia, the CFD model allowed WMC to improve its thickener operations to the point where it avoided the capital cost of a new thickener. Some thickeners are up to 100m in diameter and treat tens of thousands of cubic metres of suspension per day. There are an estimated 2000 thickeners in the operations of the Australian and international companies who sponsor the current phase of the P266 project.



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