If you’re a mining operator looking to optimise your production process and get the highest return on investment (ROI), then look no further! In this article, we’ll be going through 4 real-life case studies that have been able to deliver just that.
Our innovative take on Process Control has been demonstrated to unleash the full potential of heavy industry operations – enabling customers to get maximum benefit from their investments.
From discovery visits, finding solutions, providing recommendations and ensuring successful implementations, our team of Optimisation specialists have significantly improved the financial stability and operations of our customers. By taking this approach we have seen substantial returns on investment for those who take advantage.
Let’s take a closer look at how it works.
Major Copper Producer| Automation Roadmap
A major copper producer was experiencing low copper and gold recoveries due to unstable operation of the plant. The instability resulted in the operations team reverting to manual control of equipment rather than relying on the automated controls.
The operations team were occupied with firefighting and reacting and did not have the onsite resources to manage the process variability. This was compounded by gaps in their existing system, which highlighted:
- Limited visibility and transparency of underperformance root causes.
- Restricted capability to safely deliver on the Life of Mine production.
To overcome the challenges, the Mipac team together with the site team co-designed and co-delivered a multi-pronged improvement/automation roadmap, addressing three key work fronts:
- Production Intelligence (Improved decision making)
- Capability Development (Sustained value creation)
- Process Control Optimisation Projects (Increasing process stability)
Over the three years, the projects executed as part of the automation roadmap activities contributed to the site’s 15% improvement in gold recovery and 6% improvement in copper recovery.
Improvements to the plant stability allowed more time for the operational team to focus on the day-to-day operations and work on future projects rather than firefighting.
The combined Improvements of these optimisation activities yielded an estimated 19% increase in EBITDA, for our client with an estimated value of ~$164 M USD/pa
Engagement has continued with site and Mipac are now supporting delivery of various plant upgrade projects.
Gold Producer | Process Control Improvements
A gold operation engaged Mipac to conduct a site visit and audit on the existing control strategies and controller performance. Their site process consisted of two-stage crushing, SAG mill into conventional gravity/flotation and leaching for gold and silver, producing a gold and silver doré.
Our team recommended a range of improvement opportunities from the initial discovery visit, and later implemented recommendations for site including:
- Introducing a multi-output controller to balance demand between feeders to SAG mill.
- Incorporating SAG speed to load control.
- Replacing an expert fuzzy logic system controlling flotation, that was not working efficiently or configurable by site personnel, with DCS based ARC.
- Improving level control through flotation and subsequent feed to leaching circuits.
Changes to feeder logic and incorporating speed into SAG load control saw a 9% improvement in throughput rates at improved grinding efficiency (lowered kWh/t whilst increasing % passing P80).
- Improved circuit stability enabled an increase of recoveries of gold and silver at 4% and 19%.
- Increased utilisation of controls in auto/cascade from 75% to 100%, significantly reducing need for manual operator intervention.
Combined, these Improvements yield an estimated 20% increase in EBITDA, for our client this translated to an estimated EBITDA value ~$32 M USD/pa
Copper Concentrator | Thickener Strategy Review
This copper operation was looking to increase throughput rates as part of an expansion study. The thickener was highlighted as a potential bottleneck for site.
Mipac was engaged to review the existing control philosophy and instrumentation on site to address risk areas to meet the increased milling rates.
On review our team identified that a key outcome was to debottleneck thickener, as well as increase density to tailings (improve water recovery) and minimise water being pumped out to the dams.
We recommended an upgrade of instrumentation on thickener which were reporting unreliable bed mass readings.
We also implemented feed forward control to flocculant dosage. New instrumentation was incorporated to trim the dosage based on the interface/mud levels.
No requirement for capital expenditure to maintain thickener operation at increased throughput rates.
Reduced occurrence of thickener emptying when throughput dropped (evidenced by tighter deviation post changes).
The implementation of revised flocculant dosage control with new instrumentation resulted in a 23% reduction in flocculant dosage rates.
For our client is project delivered an estimated $USD 140,000 savings in OPEX annually.
Coal | Train Loadout (TLO) Control
Client engaged Mipac to review control philosophy around the existing loadout facility, where the client’s coal product is dispatched. The logic being used had various interlocks and restrictions added over the years causing sluggish responses to some controllers.
The Mipac team reviewed existing bottlenecks and provided revised control strategy and additional functionality of the control system for site. We then implemented and commissioned the recommended changes including
- Clean-up of logic and refreshed HMI for additional functionality and transparency.
- Improving responsiveness of controllers incorporated feed rate set-points to loadout rate.
Reduced manual operation of process and frequency of downtime events.
Median reclaim rates increased by 12% with reduced variability (44% decrease in standard deviation).
These improvements enabled operations of loadout facility at greater train speeds, resulting in an 11% reduction in loading times.
Improved stockpile dozer efficiencies via additional control system functionality, reducing the number of resources required during train loading.
The efficiency improvements translates to a total of ~2,407 potential man hours freed per annum.
How can we help your ROI results?
To wrap up, our Mipac team of Optimisation specialists have become renowned for the successful implementation of process improvements which in turn generates substantial returns on investment.
We understand how to get the most out of technology, so that you can get optimal results from your mining operations, saving you time and money. Our expertise lies in all facets of mining process optimisation – from discovery visits right through to providing you with recommendations and implementing solutions that work.
We hope these use-case profiles have provided insight into what the Mipac Process Optimisation team can do in the real world and how it could benefit your business. Leveraging cutting-edge software and multi-disciplined teams, the solutions we provide are tailored specifically to your needs.
If you are looking for significant returns for your mining operations, then let’s talk about process optimisation today. Get in touch with us here!