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MEI Online: Solid-Liquid Separation: Latest News: May 27th 2008


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:: New Generation Outotec Thickeners to Feature in US$550 Million Kolwezi Project

State-of the-art thickening technology is currently being designed by Outotec for First Quantum Minerals’ Kolwezi US$550 million-plus project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This thickening technology will be a world first.

The thickeners, due for delivery and installation at Kolwezi in early 2009, include nine high-rate and high compression thickeners for the cobalt and copper tailings project.

“The delivery follows Outotec’s earlier successes in Africa with First Quantum Minerals in their Zambian operations at Kansanshi (similar supply scope) and with Frontier in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guelb Moghrein in Mauritania and Bwana Mkubwa in Zambia”, says Outotec’s Australian Thickener Manager, Mr Duncan Wyatt

“The strength of our relationships in Africa is testimony to our thickening technology, ability to supply and support customers/projects in remote locations and the fact that Outotec’s global reach ensures even remote projects such as this are supported by local and highly experienced Outotec offices. The unique expertise and customer focus of our thickening team also played a vital role in this project."

Outotec’s technology for the Kolwezi project includes a 42m pre-leach high-rate thickener with new generation, state-of-the-art vane feedwell and a Directional Autodil™ feed dilution system. In a world first, the new Directional Autodil™ system will be combined with the company’s leading edge vane feedwell system.

“The Directional Autodil™ system, recently globally patented by Outotec, has demonstrated outstanding advances in flocculant dispersion and effective feed dilution. The system has also undergone rigorous CFD testing by Australia’s CSIRO. The system will be applied in the Kolwezi project, which is expected to reach an annual production capacity of 5,000 tonnes of cobalt and 30,000 tonnes of copper for 50 years," explains Richard Triglavcanin, Outotec’s Global Manager Thickening Technology.

“The technology is a significant advance because, other than some minor design changes, feedwells in high-rate thickeners have changed little in the past 15 years.

“Modern high-rate thickeners generally incorporate some form of internal dilution into the feedwell to dilute the feed and improve flocculation. Directional Autodil™ advances this process by delivering dilution water into the feedwell in a controlled manner based on feed density so that it complements the flow of the slurry feed.

“There is, therefore, a strong flow pattern within the top half of the feedwell, ensuring optimised mixing of high density slurry feed and dilution water, together with flocculant.

“The shelf and vanes of this innovative design produce both upper and lower zones in the feedwell. Vanes on the angle act as baffles to enhance mixing and dissipate the energy of the incoming flows. The bottom half of the feedwell is less turbulent and ideal for aggregate growth prior to exiting the feedwell," says Mr Triglavcanin.

The resource that underpins the long-life, low-cost Kolwezi project consists of stockpiled tailings from a mineral concentrator that processed high-grade ore from surrounding mines from the 1950s. Because of the poor recoveries obtained from conventional concentrating techniques, valuable amounts of copper and cobalt were discharged into two tailings dams that will be “mined” using high-pressure water guns, or monitors.

“Our advanced technology, proven performance and experienced staff have all contributed to securing this latest contract. We are delighted to be working on the Kolwezi project” added Duncan Wyatt.




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