Challenge

BHP

Agglomerate Quality Online Monitoring

Challenge

Agglomerate Quality Online Monitoring

Solutions are sought that deliver process information to the Dry Area plant personnel, allowing them to adjust the operational variables
that guarantee the quality of the glomerates at the exit of the agglomerator drum.

Aim and scope:

Solutions are sought that deliver process information to the Dry Area plant personnel, allowing them to adjust the operational variables that guarantee the quality of the glomerates at the exit of the agglomerator drum.

For this mining-metallurgical operation, the quality of the agglomerated ore depends on the bulk density. Specifically, this value must be between 1.3 and 1.4 g/ml, with a humidity lower than 8%. Solutions that deliver information online and in real time are required. As an example, those that measure bulk density and other parameters that each supplier considers relevant to the objective are of interest, while allowing operational control decisions to be made that ensure the desired range.

Excluded solutions: consulting and metallurgical studies.

Operation and processes involved:

Spence Mine – Dry Area and Leaching

Current situation:

When agglomerated ore is outside the defined control range, operational problems such as blockages and spills occur in the material handling system (conveyors, pulleys and transfer points). This affects the operational continuity of the plant.

In metallurgical terms, a glomer with low mechanical resistance generates inconveniences downstream in the process, specifically in the leaching stage, where it is necessary to ensure the homogeneity of the material. The latter favors both the wetting of the fine and coarse particles, and the drainage necessary to avoid the formation of phreatic levels inside the heap.

Consecuences:

  • Operational discontinuity of the agglomerate transport system to the leaching piles, which leads to lower performance (tph) and production losses.
  • Lower copper extraction efficiency by canalization of irrigation solutions, possible accumulation of phreatic level and eventual collapse of heap slopes.
  • Exposure to risk of personnel in charge of operational control, which is currently done manually.

Problem occurrence:

The problem is constant. It happens daily.

Current solution:

At present, the quality of the glomer is measured punctually and manually. For this purpose, operators take four samples a day from the pile, in order to qualitatively estimate the moisture content by means of the “glove test”. This action does not generate an effective response to make operational decisions and prevent the problem from occurring.

 

Tested technologies:

Testing with hardware/software developed by DICTUC for on-line quality monitoring of agglomerates. The final solution was not achieved.


Supply innovation BHP

Supply Innovation aims to promote the development of projects between the Company and the Suppliers with an associative approach, where the design and construction of the solution for the “Challenge” detected by an area of the Operation is addressed jointly. In this way, the generated projects develop solutions that add value to the Company and the suppliers build capacities and competencies that translate in more and better business opportunities.

Expande Program

The Open Innovation in Mining Program, Expande, is a public-private initiative designed and carried out by Fundación Chile. The purpose is to drive innovation and make possible a better future for global mining, promoting the mining ecosystem in Chile along with building a collaborative model that enables the best solutions for the high complexity challenges of mining today and tomorrow.