Authors: Garrido, P; Montes, W; Andrade, K

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Garrido, P, Montes, W & Andrade, K 2021, 'Comprehensive thickening analysis strategy', in AB Fourie & D Reid (eds), Paste 2021: 24th International Conference on Paste, Thickened and Filtered Tailings, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 17-24,

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The main operational issues that arise in the thickening stage are: 1) high variability in feed resulting in failure to achieve the projected treatments due to high levels of torque, poor overflow water quality, and low concentration of solids in discharge; 2) operational inefficiency due to poorly established control loop and lack of knowledge of metallurgical behaviour in thickening and underflow slurry transport; and 3) poor instrumentation and measurement of parameters due to poor or no maintenance, lack of adequate sensors, and poor analysis of the collected information. The main causes of these problems are undersized equipment, the presence of complex mineralogies, lack or poor quality of measurement of key parameters, and incomplete analysis of relevant operational variables. In such scenarios, the challenge is to identify, in a timely manner, the causes of the limitations in water recovery and operational issues and be able to predict the periods when operational instabilities will arise. This work presents a comprehensive analysis strategy that considers an automated pilot measurement system, together with an advanced analysis of the experimental and operational data, which allows us to identify, at an early stage, the causes of operational inefficiencies and to propose concrete actions for improvement. The proposed system also considers a modelling stage that predicts the behaviour of the tailings under different mineralogy and treatment scenarios.

Keywords: thickening, pilot measurement, simulation

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