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The Implementation of FloatStar Grade-Recovery Optimisation Control Solutions using Blue Cube Online Grade Analysers on Industrial Flotation Circuits


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Author S M Mantsho, D Phillpotts and P Strobos


A challenge on many industrial flotation circuits is controlling concentrate mineral grades using measurements that are provided infrequently. The mineral grades in concentrate streams are a critical performance indicator in any industrial flotation circuit. Failure to achieve concentrate mineral grade targets has significant financial consequences on a flotation operation. A violation of a gangue mineral grade limits by the concentrator may also result in significant penalties.

Online grade analysers which can provide reliable real-time grade measurements are essential for effective grade optimisation. The Blue Cube MQi analyser (by Blue Cube Systems) has recently come to prominence for its ability to rapidly determine mineral concentrate grades online and in-stream. This has provided excellent insight into the actual process dynamics in the flotation circuit, and hence enabled real-time control and optimisation of concentrate mineral grades.

Mintek’s Measurement and Control division, specialising in advanced control solutions for mineral and metallurgical industries, has had the opportunity to link the FloatStar Grade-Recovery Optimiser to the measurements provided by the Blue Cube system at a nickel concentrator plant. The project initially focused on stabilising the final concentrate grade without directly accounting for nickel recovery. The site later procured additional Blue Cube MQi analysers, resulting in the expansion of the FloatStar Grade-Recovery Optimiser to incorporate recovery component in the performance. This site already had the FloatStar Grade-Recovery Optimiser for several years, but the original grade measurement device was unreliable and ultimately failed. The system was reactivated once the Blue Cube system was installed, replacing the old analyser.

Mantsho, S M, Phillpotts, D and Strobos, P, 2012.
The implementation of FloatStar grade-recovery optimisation control solutions
using Blue Cube online grade analysers on industrial flotation circuits, in
Proceedings 11th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference, pp 363-368 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).