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Evaluation of the Blue Cube MQi Slurry Analyser for Application in an Advanced Control System for the Optimisation of a Gold Sulfide Flotation Circuit


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Author T Kewe, N Moffatt, P Strobos, D van der Spuy, A P Paine and K Keet


The Blue Cube Mineral Quantifier Inline (MQi) instrument uses reflective light spectroscopy and advanced chemometrics to measure mineral or elemental grade in a slurry line. The instrument takes scans continuously and sends data to the DCS or PLC control system.

Controlling the concentrate grades on a flotation circuit using low-frequency measurements can be difficult or impossible, especially on a circuit that has fast process dynamics. The ability to rapidly measure changes in grade makes it possible to continuously manipulate the flotation circuit operating parameters such as level, airflow and reagent addition set points to optimise plant performance throughout changing conditions.

At Barrick’s Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea the flotation circuit feeds sulfide concentrate slurry to a pressure oxidation circuit. In order to maximise gold recovery in the flotation plant and increase performance in the pressure oxidation process, there is a stringent requirement to maintain a stable and optimum sulfur grade. The gold recovery is directly affected by the sulfur grade as most of the gold at Porgera is submicroscopic and associated with the sulfides (disseminated pyrite).

Porgera considered various points in the flotation circuit for installing Blue Cube analysers. This was part of a plant upgrade to improve process control. Due to budget constraints it was decided to initially only install one Blue Cube analyser on the final concentrate stream of the flotation circuit measuring sulfur, sulfides, gold and particle size. The accuracy of the calibration results were very good for all these properties. The sulfur measurement was used in an advanced control system to optimise and stabilise the grade. The paper presents comparisons between mineral grades determined using analytical laboratory analyses and the online Blue Cube data measurements, as well as benefits achieved by measuring grade online. An analysis of the plant data before and after installation of the Blue Cube and the advanced process control upgrade indicate that the flotation recovery increased by 1.98 per cent.


Kewe, T, Moffatt, N, Strobos, P,
van der Spuy, D, Paine, A P and Keet, K, 2014. Evaluation of the Blue Cube MQi
slurry analyser for application in an advanced control system for the
optimisation of a gold sulfide flotation circuit, in Proceedings 12th AusIMM
Mill Operators’ Conference 2014
, pp 357–362 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).