Authors: Knight, MA; Wates, JA; Du Plessis, I


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Knight, MA, Wates, JA & Du Plessis, I 2012, 'Application of hydrocyclone technology to tailings storage facilities to reduce water consumption', in R Jewell, AB Fourie & A Paterson (eds), Paste 2012: Proceedings of the 15th International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 233-241,

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Cycloning technology is extensively used in mineral processing plants for the extraction and size separation of minerals. Cycloning of tailings storage facilities (TSFs) has been utilised successfully in South Africa as an alternative to other tailings deposition methods. In order to evaluate paste and thickened tailings disposal options against alternative methods, one should make the comparison against realistic baseline water consumption. This may require optimisation of existing operations or, alternatively, preparation of an appropriate base case that has been designed to reduce water consumption to the minimum level possible without thickening. Cycloning or classification of tailings provides an opportunity to reduce water consumption in some cases. Based on a number of actual case studies, Fraser Alexander and Multotec have worked together to develop a scientific approach for the design and operation of cyclone TSFs. The study focuses on taking cyclone practice from the mineral processing environment and combining it with TSF design thinking to optimise the design and operation of TSFs in such a manner as to optimise classified tailings production and to reduce water consumption as far as possible. The approach is based on theoretical assessment, laboratory test work, field tests and observations and operational experience in managing TSFs. The approach consists of the following steps: The paper will use a case study to illustrate the influence of variables such as rate of rise, cyclone split, and feed slurry solids concentration on the design of aspects of cyclone TSFs and on performance with respect to water consumption and recovery.

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