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MEI Online: Solid-Liquid Separation: Latest News: May 9th 2006


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:: Paste Thickeners for Liqhobong and ASSMANG

In less than two years since Bateman Engineering acquired the rights to market WesTech Inc's paste thickening technology, it has secured a number of contracts to supply these systems throughout Southern Africa.

A Bateman-WesTech Paste Thickener was supplied to the Liqhobong Diamond Mine project located in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho. The contract covered the design, fabrication, procurement, transportation and installation on site of an 8 m diameter paste thickener unit, complete with tankage, mechanism, drive, bed pressure detection, level control and electrical panel. Commissioning was done under a separate contract.

The thickener, which was installed to maximise water recovery, was sized based on the rheological properties of paste produced by testwork on samples provided by the client. Installation of the unit was complex due both to the accessibility of the site at an altitude of 2,550 m ASL, as well as the extreme temperature fluctuations (including snow in Winter) and the high rainfall and wind.

The open-pit Liqhobong Diamond Mine, which commenced production in September 2005 mining a 1.6 ha diamondiferous kimberlite pipe, is owned by European Diamonds (75 % shareholding) and the government of Lesotho. Its recently completed diamond-recovery plant processes around 420,000 t/yr of ore.

In a contract through Apic Toll Treatment (Pty) Ltd (Atoll), a Bateman-WesTech Paste Thickener has been commissioned at the Associated Manganese (ASSMANG) ferrochrome plant in Machadodorp, South Africa.

The plant is operated on a toll treatment basis by Atoll and the thickener was installed to effectively dispose of the slimes with minimal water content. The thickened tailings, in the form of high-density paste with limited free water, are pumped to a pond where they are left to dry and then removed with front-end loaders and dump trucks. This not only limits the size of the deposited tailings stack, but also reduces the amount of water lost from the plant.

The 8m diameter unit treats approximately 15 t/h of slag at a flow rate of 160 m3/h, resulting in an underflow density of 1.6 to 1.7 t/m3 or above 60% solids. Pilot-scale testwork was conducted at SA Chrome on ferrochrome slag to determine the rheological properties of the paste and for the purposes of sizing the unit.

As with the Lighobong contract, Bateman Engineering was responsible for the design through to site installation. Hot commissioning of the unit has been completed, as well as an extremely successful 24-hour performance run.

Bateman Engineering has the right to use WesTech Inc., USA's paste-thickening systems in its projects, both in Africa and globally, and has a further agreement with PasteThickTM& Associates to provide the sales and marketing services for Bateman-WesTech Paste Thickeners.




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