Authors: Chinchankar, AP

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Chinchankar, AP 2024, 'Lifecycle cost comparison: modern solid-bowl centrifuge technology outperforms filtration in tailings dewatering', in AB Fourie & D Reid (eds), Paste 2024: Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on Paste, Thickened and Filtered Tailings, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 27-38,

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Huge improvements have been made in the solid-bowl centrifuge (SBC) technology by Alfa Laval – a Swedish multinational company with global presence and over 60 years of centrifuge design and manufacturing experience. This has resulted in a highly robust centrifuge design with large tailings dewatering capacity that delivers consistent performance with minimal operator intervention. Over the past 12 years, Alfa Laval’s SBCs have been installed for dewatering tailings from a range of mineral processing plants all over the world. Some of the duties include dewatering of tailings from iron ore, borate, oil sands, platinum group metals, gemstones, coal and so on. The modern SBC technology is deployed to produce dewatered solids suitable for either dry stacking or for codisposal with coarse rejects. It can also be adapted to produce a thickened pumpable discharge if the mining customer desires, owing to site-specific requirements. In this paper, we present a detailed lifecycle cost analysis for iron ore tailings dewatering using Alfa Laval’s SBC versus filter press technology. Inputs have been collected from one of the SBC installations that has completed more than 20,000 hours of successful operation at an iron ore mine and the details regarding the filter press have been collected from a similar customer site. This study shows more than 30% savings in capex and up to 21% savings in opex per annum resulting in up to 23% lower lifecycle cost for the modern SBC vis-à-vis the filter press considering a plant operating period of 20 years. Key factors in favour of the modern SBC technology are lower installation cost, lower maintenance cost, less manpower and less wash water requirements which, together, more than make up for the costs on polymer addition (if needed) and power consumption.

Keywords: tailings, dewatering, solid-bowl, centrifuge, water recovery

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