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Tailings Management Solutions

Friday, March 6, 2020
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Tailings Management Solutions

Did You Know? Micronics is a leader in providing dewatering solutions for tailings management. Our solutions contribute to both our clients’ environmental stewardship and maximizing water reuse.

In the mining and mineral processing industries, the term “tailings” refers to waste materials that remain after the desired minerals have been extracted from the mined ore in a processing plant.

We recently partnered with our channel partner in Africa, Multotec, to bring a filter press technology solution to a chromite mine. Chromite is an oxide mineral consisting of chromium, iron, and oxygen (FeCr2O4); chromite mining is very important as chromite is the only economic ore of chromium.

Traditionally, chromite mines use tailings dams to discard the tailings while recovering water to be reused in the process. However, as tailings dam presents numerous challenges, the client required a solution that provided a cost-effective alternative.

Challenges

There were a range of challenges facing the chromite mining operation. Principally, these included needing a suitable alternative to the use of a large tailings dam which contributed to a variety of potential environmental concerns such as:

  • contaminating groundwater drinking sources
  • harming wildlife
  • releasing harmful toxins into the environment
  • creating risk to nearby communities as a result of potential structural damage to the tailings dam

Because of the numerous aforementioned environmental challenges associated with tailings dams, the government put in place stricter regulations for receiving a tailings dam license.

The mine management – like many mines around the globe – was keenly interested in conserving water, in addition to preventing groundwater contamination from the mine tailings. Tailings dams in this locale also had the inherent challenge of high evaporation rates due to the high temperatures.

The mine additionally needed a technology solution that could effectively deal with the highly abrasive slurry.

Solution: Filter Press Dewatering for Tailings Management, Achieving Filter Cake with 80% solids

Test work was conducted by Multotec to evaluate various technologies and to assess the customer’s slurry samples. After collaboration with the Micronics team and based on local process expertise, a dewatering solution which allowed for an alternative to the large tailings dam was proposed.

Specifically, with the implementation of our filter press dewatering operation, the waste product is a filter cake with 80% solids content. Importantly, the cake could be easily and cost-effectively transported away for disposal rather than relying upon the tailings dam.

In addition, the dewatering operation utilizing two 1200mm Micronics filter presses, resulted in recovery of ~80% of the clean water in the slurry, allowing for economical water reuse in the mine’s processing plant.

We were able to implement a filter press technology solution whereby the filter cloths were optimized for the abrasive slurry application. While many filter press manufacturers focus almost exclusively on the robustness of the filtration equipment, Micronics additionally brings strong filter cloth expertise to the table. In fact, we often say that it’s the filter cloth which is at the very heart of filter press operations. Optimizing the filter cloth for this specific abrasive mine slurry application allowed for easier cake release and longer cloth life. When a sub-optimal cloth is selected, mining clients need to be concerned with loss of productivity during premature/unscheduled cloth changeouts.

1200mm Chromium Mine Filter Press

Our team’s dewatering solution facilitates shorter cycle times and longer filter cloth life for this abrasive mine slurry application.


You can count on Micronics for innovative and robust dewatering solutions for mine tailings across the globe. Contact us and let us put our long-standing experience in Tailings Management solutions to work for your challenges in your mine.

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