MechChem Africa

Two new modular Reflux™ Classifier plants, built in a little over six month, were the focus of FLSmidth’s product launch day at its Delmas Supercentre on October 23 this year. Designed around ten interconnecting modules, each the size of a 20-foot container (excluding walkways, handrailing and product stacking arrangements), these plants are to be incorporated into the tailings treatment lines of two local UG2-based PGM producers for the recovery of chromite.

Modular RCs for chromite tailings beneficiationAn overview of a 100 t/hour FLSmidth Modular RC™ plant to be incorporated into the tailings treatment lines of two local UG2-based PGM producers for the recovery of chromite.

A typical UG2-platinum group metals (PGM) mine, explains Hazell, uses flotation cells to recover PGM concentrate. “The remaining material contains waste and chromites,” he tells MechChem Africa. “Depending on the level of entrainment in the flotation process, chromite contaminant can still be in with the PGM concentrate when the product is sent to the smelter, which can lead to penalties being imposed on producers.

“If the flotation process is optimised, however, then the PGMs will go off to the smelter and the chromite tailings will be left behind, as a waste product, albeit one that has considerable value,” Hazell points out, adding that head grades of 23% chromite in waste streams are not uncommon.

“While for PGM producers, chromite is a contaminant, it is a saleable product in its own right. And with repressed platinum prices, PGM mine operators are realising that chromite represents a ‘money-for-nothing’ opportunity to improve the profitability and sustainability of their mining operations,” Hazell notes.

Beneficiating the ‘waste’ chromite stream using spiral separation technology is not entirely new. Here, mixed slurries are separated into mineral streams of different densities due to the centrifugal force applied to each stream flowing down and around the spiral. “But spiral technology is inefficient in dealing with fine particles and can be unforgiving if the head grade composition changes for any reason.

Compared to spirals, FLSmith’s Reflux Classifiers offer far better recovery efficiency in separating bi-mineral slurries with different densities. “If the head grade goes up or down, the separation efficiency does not shift significantly and the set point is also easily adjusted,” Hazell informs MechChem Africa.

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