Dare ask any plant engineer – getting the real time In-Line data by measuring slurry stream composition is not an exact science. But can this be attained at all?
“Yes!” confidently affirms Albertus Heydenrych, New Business Manager of South African-based Blue Cube Systems. He is referring to the MQI in-slurry measurement tools, citing the mode of installation and the convenience of the diffused reflective spectroscopy (DRS) technology as what stands out with these measurement tools. These, he says, enable deployment for different commodities and bring about cost savings.
• Mode of installation
The primary advantage of the system is that it is installed directly in the process line and, at 15 second intervals, provides data at a much higher tempo than traditional multiplexing OSA systems. Installation is simple and cost effective, and the high data rate is ideal for automating and controlling plant operations, assures Heydenrych. “The installation eliminates the additional engineering complexity and costs of clogging-prone sampling lines whose origins are situated in simple take-off points, which are thus not representative of a stream’s actual contents.”
• Diffused reflective spectroscopy (DRS) technology
The diffused reflective spectroscopy (DRS) technology is inherently safe as it uses a halogen light source and has no lasers, X-ray or nuclear sources. It is environmentally friendly as it requires and contains no hazardous consumables or contaminants. Servicing and maintenance are therefore simple and can be done by trained plant instrumentation personnel.
Uniquely, the Blue Cube MQi measures the combined spectral profile of slurry flowing in a pipe with DRS. As in a specific mineralisation, each mineral species exhibits its own spectral profile. A mixture of minerals will show a combined profile that contains a proportional summation of all the various mineral profiles.
By comparing the fingerprint of a mixture of unknown mineral composition with the fingerprints of other mixtures with known mineral compositions, its composition can be determined; as an example, copper oxides can be distinguished from copper sulphides, and light elements such as silica can be measured at the same point and with the same technology.
Pneumatic sampler for dedicated calibration samples
Blue Cube’s pneumatic sampler, supplied by eDart, complements the MQi tool set. The pneumatic sampler takes dedicated calibration samples using smart software developed by Blue Cube, which reads flow and density inputs and selects the optimum time to obtain a sample, reducing unnecessary sampling and laboratory analysis.
Combining this sampler with a Blue Cube-developed sample cabinet allows the plant to select either Blue Cube Systems’ calibration or shift sample mode, says Heydenrych. “The sample cabinet enables the capturing and storage of samples in a contaminant-free environment and provides a measure of control, as each sample is automatically weighed after collection.”
Ideal for process control
Blue Cube Systems’ MQI in-slurry measurement tools are ideal for process control because they provide real-time information to either operators or process control personnel , eliminating outdated laboratory sample information. While samples can, and should never be eliminated, Blue Cube Systems’ real-time information enables a reduction of sampling for process control.
To date, the technology has been successfully deployed in diverse applications. This includes measuring sulphurs in the feed to autoclaves in gold processing (Papua New Guinea) and chromite concentrate from spiral plants (eastern and western limbs, South Africa), as well as measuring silica in iron ore (Brazil) and Nickel and Copper ( Australia).
The real cost driver
The real cost driver of the technology is its ability to eliminate impurities and continuously optimise grade and recovery with immediate and relevant information. Further, it provides the ability to adjust the reagent dosage to an optimum. Savings can reduce the payback to a matter of months.
Training and relationships with technology partners
In a bid to provide optimal services to clients, Blue Cube’s dedicated team provides detailed training on key aspects of the sampling process. More to the point, the company maintains strong relationships with its sales channels in Chile, Brazil, Australia and its technology partners, such as eDart.
What should be of even more interest to mining companies is that Blue Cube’s latest multi-stream analyser provides a cost-effective solution to measuring several points in a plant while maintaining the in-line advantages. This is achieved by multiplexing the data hardware but maintaining the optical and sampling benefits of in-line measurement. Blue Cube Systems‘ In-slurry Measurement tools are a solution that can be cost-effectively applied in new and OSA retrofit situations.