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Top new technology.

The technology attracting the most interest during 1999/00 from MINING Magazine's readers worldwide

MINING Magazine receives hundreds of enquiries from readers around the globe each week, requesting further information on products advertised or covered in editorial. This review covers those product news items and equipment reviews that generated the most enquiries from June 1999 to May 2000, and those enquiries are still coming in.

The following analysis contains important and useful information for the industry, and in particular its suppliers. If you missed reading about these top products at the time, you can still use the reader service card from back issues to get more information, or contact these manufacturers directly -- we have republished their addresses.

The product/technology development attracting the most attention this year was Bateman's revolutionary new process to recover gold, copper and other metals from refractory ores using microwaves. EMR in Canada has run pilot plants for some years in which microwaves successfully break down or modify sulphide, carbonaceous and other materials that shield the valuable ore minerals. According to Bateman, which has made a significant investment in EMR to boost this development, the equipment required for mineral processing will be essentially conventional. Further, it should be easy to adapt designs to maximise the energy efficiency of microwaves and to handle high throughputs.

Also in the field of mineral processing, Canadian Process Technologies (formerly CESL) drew the next highest number of enquiries for its modular lab scale package to simulate continuous flotation operation. These packages are a fraction of the cost of a pilot-scale plant and can be operated with fewer personnel whilst allowing a great deal of metallurgical testing to be accomplished. They also offer great flexibility for multiple configurations which can be quickly changed to many interactive combinations of rougher, scavenger and cleaner cells. A continuous regrind pin mill can also be added to the system to regrind intermediate concentrate or tailings streams. A column flotation unit is also available as an added operation.

A recording device that can examine all the parameters useful in Measurement While Drilling (MWD) has been developed by LIM Technologies. Interpretive parameters, recorded as a function of hole depth, include Instantaneous Advance Speed, or penetration rate, and Tool Pressure, providing, respectively, indications of drillability and regularity of the drilling. Instantaneous Drilling Time can be used to confirm the IAS, whilst Torque and Rotation Speed provide and indication of the heterogeneity of the ground being drilled. Corrective parameters such as hydraulic pressure, strike pressure or hold pressure can also be recorded.

Used almost exclusively in the alumina industry for two decades, deep bed paste thickening has now, with the technological involvement of Baker Process, been developed for a wide range of mineral processing applications. The process combines the efficiency of Baker Process's EDuc feedwell dispersion and flocculation with deep tankage designed to deliver maximum gravity compression of solids. It is capable of accommodating up to 20 times the solids mass flow at 10 times the hydraulic loading of conventional thickener units.

DOZSIM 1.5 is a new PC program that has been developed by Caterpillar to calculate dozer productivity in surface mine applications. The package addresses push distances, grades, pit design, site parameters and other considerations to accurately, and quickly, calculate machine productivity. Although relying heavily on 3D solids modelling for accurate estimates of dozer productivity, the system, compatible with Windows 95, 98 and NT platforms, does not require CAD experience.

A new mill drive from ANI Mineral Processing overcomes the requirements for twin pinion arrangements or gearless drives through the use of two pinions with a single large motor. Two opposing helixes on the main output shaft results in load sharing, with the shaft free to float axially, thereby ensuring that the torque is split equally between the output gears. The use of one large motor greatly simplifies the provision of a variable speed drive option and eliminates load sharing and synchronisation issues.

Despite the obvious benefits of converting surplus pressure energy in high-head gravity pipelines to a useful form, this resource remains largely untapped because the abrasion of most slurries precludes using water turbines. Knight Piesold seems to have overcome the problems associated with past attempts to exploit this 'free' energy. Since an interface between slurry and clean water tends to remain coherent when confined within a flowing pipe, the company has devised a circuit whereby the slurry pressure is imparted onto a recirculating body of clean water. The 'free' energy is recovered from the high pressure water in a reaction turbine, with the tailwater displacing the low-pressure slurry out of the system. Synchronised operations of diverter valves in the slurry circuit and check valves in the water circuit combine to create a continuously recirculating water flow.

The LaserAce 300 from Measurement Devices is an innovative handheld system enabling the mine surveyor to measure distances, gradients, heights, areas, volumes and profiles with 'point-and-shoot' simplicity. Weighing just 600 g, the LaserAce incorporates a pulsed laser distance meter, inclinometer and optional digital fluxgate compass or horizontal encoder. A visible red dot scope allows the user to aim and measure range, bearing and vertical angles to passive targets up to 300 m away with decimeter accuracy. Measurements are displayed on a back-lit LCD panel.

Beneficiation Technologies' Dual Extraction Flotation Cells (DEC) incorporates unique design features that overcome deficiencies inherent in other mechanical and column flotation cells, including the ability to achieve efficient recovery when particle size exceeds 35 mesh. The DEC is also capable of treating 12:1 ratio in feed size, thereby eliminating costly sections involving a 35 mesh separation and two flotation circuits (coarse and fine). Other advantages cited by Beneficiation Technologies include very low energy requirement, minimal maintenance and low initial capital investment.

The two most popular Extec screening machines have proven to be, according to the company, the three-way split Turbo and the single-conveyor, three-product 6000 models. Both are offered with the option of a vibrating grid in order to scalp off the unwanted oversize, and a shredder unit to break down material prior to screening. Amongst Extec's crawler-mounted range of screening machines are the Turbotrac (essentially a Turbo on tracks) and the Robotrac which, Extec claims, incorporates one of the most efficient vibrating scapling grids available on the market.

Product surveys

The Australian suppliers article in the October issue of MM attracted by far the most reader enquiries in the product survey category. The only three other items in the top 20 were published in the September issue (Bulk materials handling), October issue (Underground communications) and March issue (Canadian suppliers).

Amongst the Australian suppliers survey, Lakefield Oretest (formerly Oretest) drew the highest reader response. The company is one of the leading metallurgical testing laboratories in Australia, and, in addition to providing a full range of services to the resource industry, it has established itself as a leader in advanced mineral processing, particularly in the field of hydrometallurgy. Significant programmes have been conducted on the majority of Australia's nickel laterite projects, several vanadium projects and a number of base metal sulphides.

Caterpillar Elphinstone is expanding its geographical spread, selling LHDs and specialised underground trucks through the global Caterpillar dealer network. The company is extending its line of smaller equipment and a larger articulated truck is also under consideration. There are also plans to expand the product line around other Caterpillar base machines, which could include scalers, charging units and telescopic handlers for underground applications. Greater use is also being made of Caterpillar technology through the adaptation of payload and vehicle information monitoring systems for underground.

International Drill Quip has released an expanded line of simple design, high pressure RC and blast-hole conventional hammers for worldwide application. The new design features a one piece top sub and no make-up, holds higher pressures that the old design on the same compressor and is reported to have instantaneous increased penetration rates of 25%. The company has also commenced designing an RC casing advance system, suitable for simultaneous drilling and casing in "impossible" ground. The system is suited for drilling in lake beds, running sands, clays, gravels and caving broken overburden, enabling drillers to continue diamond or RC drilling past the casing using the company's standard RC Millennium hammer system.

Combinatorics' MineMAX Planner is a pit optimisation/sequencing module for the company's MineMAX resource optimisation software. The module brings together the technologies of optimisation and 3-D interactive visualisation to provide a user-friendly tool for determining optimal pits and performing strategic analyses. A number of Australian nickel laterite projects have turned to MineMAX to address their complex scheduling requirements.

The need for water drainage from the walls of opencut mines has led to a new specialist area for the providers of drilling services. UDR has completed a specially designed drill, the HDR250, on behalf of Century Drilling for this particular application. The rig incorporates a simple box section mast and low speed/high torque rotation head. A hydraulically operated dual tilt rod tray, holding 250 m of 140 mm casing and 89 mm drill rods is located on one side of the rig. The rod handling functions are operable from both the driller's console and at the rod handling crane.

Other additions to UDR's product range include the UDR200D, a helicopter-portable modular diamond drill, and the UDR1200, a high back capacity, multi-purpose drill. UDR has also released its range of Safe-T products which include the Safe-T-Spin wireline (diamond) rod pre-torque/make/break tool, Safe-T-Break RC and rotary pipe break out tool, and the Safe-T-Load RC and rotary rod handling system.

With respect to bulk materials handling, Krupp Canada's eco-shiploader at Cia Minera Dona Ines de Collahuasi's copper export terminal attracted the highest reader enquiries. To accomplish total elimination of dust to the environment, Krupp Canada designed a completely enclosed tubular shaped boom, which also acts as a structural member. The luffing action of the boom is used to insert the chute into the ship's hold below the hatch so that the flow of copper concentrates is protected from the wind. Also included in the design are stringent specifications for seismic control in order to maintain environmental protection in the event of an earthquake.

Cleveland Cascade's chutes are now in operation worldwide, handling diverse products that include alumina, bentonite, china clay, coal, coke, perlite, potash, salt and soda ash. The chute is a bulk materials loading system that considerably reduces dust emissions without recourse to dust extraction systems. The company provides design services and custom manufactures all chutes to suit each specific application. The largest capacity chute for ship and silo loading can handle rates of some 5,000 [m.sup.3]/h.

In 1999, Bateman Materials Handling (BMH) handed over to Portuet a new load-out station and Elbram train mover for the port of Richards Bay in South Africa, A specific feature of the system is its ability to load out seven very different types of material, including coking coal, fertilisers, potash and sulphur, with bulk densities ranging from 0.7-1.4 g/ml. The station is also able to recognise and load trains composed of wagons of different sizes, from 30-50 t capacity, randomly placed along the train.

Another project completed by BMH is the rapid coal loadout station at Moranbah North mine in Queensland, Australia. The station comprises a 600 surge bin, an 85 t weigh flask and a certifiable check weigh system operated via a SCADA system. It accurately loads trains of up to 102 wagons at an average rate of 4,500 t/h.

A good example of Rolls-Royce Materials Handling's particular expertise in providing solutions to customers' unusual requirements is the 3,500 t radial ship loader that it supplied to LKAB's iron ore terminal at Lulea at the northern end of the Baltic Sea. The system incorporates computer-controlled technology to automatically operate the ship loader and to monitor the loading of the barges -- the iron ore has to be very evenly distributed throughout the vessel to maintain stability as the barges cut a path through seas that are frozen for 40% of the year.
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Publication:Mining Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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