Optimisation projects are regularly undertaken without knowing the root cause of an issue. It is all well and good to trial a multitude of flotation reagents, change the operating characteristics of your flotation cells, or add more media into your ball mills, but time and again, root cause analysis traces issues back to the performance of hydrocyclones. In JKTech's experience, hydrocyclones are poorly operated and maintained (in both primary grinding and regrind circuits), exacerbating issues that many operations commonly experience.
Recent case studies are presented where JKTech has been engaged to improve the process only to discover that the hydrocyclones were the main issue. At one operation it was found that the hydrocyclone feed density gauge was reading significantly lower to the actual density. Following re-calibration of the gauge, and with further improvement of cyclone operational and design parameters using JKSimMet, a significantly sharper efficiency curve was achieved. This resulted in improvements to downstream recoveries while alleviating pumping capacities that were previously constrained by fines and water caught up in recirculating loads.
Several other case studies are presented which may seem to be relatively basic, but many basics seem to be getting lost in the day-to-day responsibilities of the modern plant metallurgist. Simple fixes to hydrocyclones can result in significant production increases, but more focus is needed in monitoring these to sustain the benefits.
Wong, B and Vizcarra, T G, 2018. What category cyclone is devastating your plant?, in Proceedings 14th AusIMM Mill Operators' Conference 2018, pp 665–673 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).