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Tailings process optimisation through automation and controls integration


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Author M Baxter, R Cunningham, R Williams and D Zink


The purpose of this paper is to discuss the efficient operation of a tailings dewatering circuit comprising a thickener and filter press through proper control and automation. It is common to see thickeners and filter press circuits each with their own control systems. This can cause multiple issues when trying to increase efficiency and reliability of the tailings management process. By automating the thickener and filter press controls, you are eliminating any delays and inconsistencies caused by human error and process variations. When done properly the system can maintain a consistent product as the feed characteristics change.

Previously, operators would have to monitor the process parameters and adjust the system accordingly. This can now be accomplished using state of the art process control equipment that continuously monitors and adjusts critical variables using Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) loops. The paper will detail the control theory used to maintain these systems, highlight other benefits of having a fully integrated plant such as predictive maintenance and remote diagnostics as well as present examples of how these have been implemented in field examples.


Baxter, M, Cunningham, R, Williams, R and Zink, D, 2018. Tailings process optimisation through automation and controls integration, in Proceedings Mine Waste and Tailings Stewardship Conference 2018, pp 416–421 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).