This paper reports on the long-term operation of a particle density meter (PDM) at the Bloomfield coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP). This unit has been operating continuously for over three years, providing real-time data to the operators to allow the monitoring of flotation circuit performance. PDM outputs include slurry density, solids concentration on both mass and volumetric basis, and particle density. Knowing the average particle density of a stream allows for the optimisation of the process in real-time.
The calibration of the solids concentration measurement device proved very difficult as the factory calibration techniques and existing laboratory analysis did not give accurate or reliable results. The solids concentration device had to be re-engineered and a new calibration method developed that gave accurate and repeatable results. Independent verification of samples taken from the PDM was undertaken as part of the trial process.
The operational reliability of the PDM was a major point of investigation. The initial installation of the unit revealed issues with large, misplaced material of up to 20 mm periodically entering the unit, leading to feed blockages. The presence of these misplaced, oversized particles in the flotation circuit was resolved by installing innovative automatic back flush systems on the PDM.
From a plant perspective the PDM has been an invaluable instrument that has enabled irregularities in the flotation circuit performance to be identified, which sampling had not and could not readily identify. This was achieved by close monitoring of real-time tailings composition on a minute by minute basis over short and extended periods. Variations in the tailings stream with respect to particle density and solids concentration were traced back to other issues in the plant. In addition, the PDM has allowed cell optimisation with respect to reagent dose rate to be improved. The PDM with real-time feedback can negate the need for large sampling campaigns and analysis during plant optimisation programs.
Lambert, N, Cox, N and Nicholson, R, 2016. Particle Density Meter, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Mill Operators' Conference 2016, pp 245–250 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).