HOW to manage tailings storage facilities (TSF) is an ongoing challenge for Australia’s mining and minerals industry, from a risk mitigation and cost point of view.
The Australian Mining Tailings Communique recently released by the Minerals Council Australia (MCA) demonstrates that the industry takes the topic extremely seriously, with responsible tailings management moving to the top of the management agenda.
The Communique doesn’t only outline a roadmap for better management of existing tailings dams, but also pledges to develop better ideas for the future on behalf of its member companies.
No doubt this will include a closer investigation of tailings dewatering best practices, but also because regulators are reluctant to issue new TSF licenses.
In fact, Australia is already a hotbed for tailings dewatering innovation, with a number of local and international companies far advanced in installing new technologies in their processing plants.
As deployments move from trials to full deployment, there has been increasing demand in tailing dry disposal technologies such as mechanical dewatering with solid bowl centrifuges.
Alfa Laval has spent more than 10 years engineering its solid bowl centrifuges for heavy-duty, large scale mining applications such as tailings dewatering.
Its SBC technology has been well proven, with product trials at various sites and through actual successful installation references across the country.
It provides customers with continuous dewatering operation with a small footprint. The units come with full automated control which reduces labour requirements and operator intervention.
Even the company’s largest size solid bowl centrifuge, the P3 unit, only occupies a very small footprint compared to other technologies for the same solid handling capacity, which means significant cost saving on overall plant installation.
And unlike most other mechanical dewatering technologies including belt filter presses, Alfa Laval solid bowl centrifuges can also handle tailing material containing high levels of fines or clay which are traditionally challenging and problematic.
With its high G force, the solid bowl centrifuges are able to handle fines, high clay content, and slimes to produce a cake with a consistently low moisture level that can be disposed of in a similar fashion to overburden.
Moving away from tailings dams by using solid bowl decanter centrifuges also allows recovery and re-use of 80-90 pc of plant process water, a significant cost saving in regions where water scarcity is a big issue.
The story doesn’t end there.
Alfa Laval expects Australian miners to continue to punch above their weight when it comes to tailings innovation, as the mineral processing industry moves towards a new era in tailings management globally.
For more information about how your site can trial a solid bowl decanter centrifuge for stackable and transportable tailings cake, please contact Alfa Laval Australia and visit: www.alfalaval.com.au
Alfa Laval Australia mining engineer Sunny Li