FLSmidth Ludowici wins 2013 PACE Zenith Award for Mining

PACE Zenith Awards 2013: Mining, Minerals & Exploration category sponsored by Schneider Electric

WINNER: FLSmidth Ludowici
Project: Ludowici Reflux Classifier

FLSmidth Ludowici, working with research and development partner Professor Kevin Galvin of the University of Newcastle, has developed the Reflux Classifier (RC), a breakthrough in coal and minerals processing globally.

The company and Professor Galvin sought a way to increase the recovery and concentration of fine particles in premium, high-grade metallurgical coal processes.

According to the Productivity Commission, there has been a 40 percent decrease in yield over the past 30 years in Australia. Inevitably, mining faces problems associated with falling grades and poorly liberated feeds, and hence a steep rise in energy intensity in mining.

By enhancing the ability to recover and concentrate fine particles, the Reflux Classifier technology reduces the rate of increase in energy intensity in mining. The improved particle recovery and energy savings are expected to save the mining industry billions of dollars.

The Ludowici RC units are the latest state of the art fine particle technology (gravity based separation) and offer significant advantages in capacity, adaptability and efficiency.

Ludowici’s Reflux Classifier technology has already been proven with operating units applying the latest in gravity-based separation engineering in Africa, Asia, Australia and North America.

The RC is an industrial machine that separates fine particles on the basis of either density or size; it further improves the efficiency of the recovery process with its unique tilted design. The technology has succeeded in solving an existing processing problem by achieving the sharp separations essential in the recovery of premium, high grade metallurgical coal.

Already under patent, the Reflux Classifier is currently used in seven countries and Professor Galvin’s research team, which forms part of the University’s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER), continues to investigate the full potential of the concept in other areas.

The Reflux Classifier was developed by combing a conventional fluidised bed with a system of inclined channels to achieve enhanced rates of segregation of high density particles, and enhanced conveying of low density particles. The Reflux Classifier can be applied to a relatively broad range of particle sizes, and achieve higher recovery of valuable material than other water-based technologies.

The Reflux Classifier incorporates the new ‘laminar high shear rate’ mechanism: the latest in fine particle gravity based separation technology. This, along with advancements in channel spacing and width mean that Reflux Classifiers are more efficient and more compact than competing fine coal and mineral processing equipment.

Scott Wooldridge, Vice President, Industry Business, Schneider Electric Australia

Scott Wooldridge (R), Vice President, Industry Business, Schneider Electric Australia congratulates winners FLSmidth Ludowici's Taavi Orupõld (L) and Professor Kevin Galvin from the University of Newcastle.

Preliminary tests of the Ludowici laminar high shear rate enhanced reflux classifiers (undertaken at the University of Newcastle's RC Laboratory) have increased coal yield by by up to 80% when using a laminar high shear rate regime in the inclined channels.

In addition, remodelled RCs enable a set point operator to operate the machinery directly, reducing operating time and making it more cost effective. The plant can choose the density at which the gate valve must open. A set point is entered, which causes the RC to dump coal as soon as it reaches its density.

The Ludowici RC also has a smaller footprint than any competing technology and offers a higher throughput for each square metre while displaying better separation efficiency than competing technology. Significantly, the Ludowici RC is designed in a way which allows ease of transport, site assembly and installation. Smaller units up to RC2000 size fit a in a single standard 20’ open top shipping. Larger units fit in 40’ open top shipping containers.

This compact design, coupled with high capacity, means the Ludowici RC is suited for any plant layout. It requires less than 2.4m x 2.1m of floor space, and the system is also easy to operate. Only one operational control is required, with the operator only needing to set the density set-point which controls the cut point.

Pilot Scale testing is also available, with the smaller, pilot RC300 scaled units available for hire. This small unit is designed for in-plant test work in coal and minerals applications, with typical throughput of 1 to 5 tonnes/ hour dependant on the feed material and sizing of feed material.

As one of Australia’s oldest manufacturing companies, FLSmidth Ludowici specializes in the delivery of world-class minerals processing and materials handling equipment. Established in 1858 and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange since 1911, the Company offers a heritage of excellence in manufacturing, sales and service spanning more than 150 years.

Today, FLSmidth Ludowici is a $260 Million operation comprising five discrete businesses: process technologies; vibrating equipment; engineered consumable products; industrial and infrastructure; and wear and thermal materials.

A huge global footprint of 31 offices in six countries around the world and involves the intellectual investment of a team of more than 1200 professionals including engineers, mechanics and service personnel.

According to the PACE Zenith Awards judges, this entry was a winner because the improved particle recovery and energy savings enabled by the innovative Reflux Classifier could save the mining industry significant amount of money.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Adelaide Control Engineering
Project: PhosEnergy Plant

Adelaide Control Engineering aided Australian company Uranium Equities Limited in designing and building a pilot plant for its PhosEnergy process, which would provide accurate operational information from a variety of sites while meeting the global legal requirements for uranium production.

One of the major impurities in the ores used for the production of phosphate-based fertilisers is uranium. The PhosEnergy process, developed by Uranium Equities Limited in association with ANSTO, provides a means for recovering this uranium as a high-value byproduct, reducing the problem of radioactive wastes in the phosphate production process without any material impact on the fertiliser.

To gather data for the design of a full scale uranium recovery plant, Uranium Equities Limited tasked ACE with the design and building of a 300tpa capacity pilot plant, capable of extracting U3O8 uranium from a phosphate deposit, and then process the ore using ion exchange methods.

While the initial trial sites were in the USA, there are a number of potential sites throughout the world. Thus, ACE was challenged with designing a pilot plant which would be suitable for operation in any country, using local mains voltages and frequencies (380-480VAC and 50 or 60 Hz).

Additionally, because of the nature of the pilot plant, once the information on a site was gathered, it would need to be dismantled and relocated to other deposits. The pilot plant needed to be economical to build and install but easy to relocate.

To meet these requirements, ACE decided to model and design a modular plant using 3D CAD to fit within two standard 40-foot side-opening shipping containers arranged side by side, with a raised access way between them.

The first unit contains the reagent storage tanks and transfer pumps while the second contained the ion exchange columns and associated equipment. Electrical and control switchboards were distributed between both containers and located to minimise field wiring.

This meant construction could be carried out under its direct supervision in ACE’s workshop in Adelaide; and the plant could be fully tested and commissioned in Adelaide before being sent to site.

Other advantages stemming from this design is an easily-transportable solution, and minimal work required on site – in fact, the plant can be assembled and commissioned and ready for operation in less than one week upon arrival.

The 3D modeling enabled the plant to be designed to reduce the number of connections between containers. This enables the containers to be unloaded side by side on any levelled area and quickly interconnected ready for operation in minimum time.

In order for the solution to be used around the world, the process plant’s electrical and control systems needed to meet all Australian and International Standards as well as standards common to the uranium processing industry throughout the world.

In addition, the plant had to incorporate features to ensure it met the specific legislative requirements of the countries in which it is to operate.

Another major requirement was that the plant be capable of local and remote operation and monitoring. The local control needed to be simple for the operator while maintaining high reliability.

Remote access was required for editing of code for control optimisation, gathering raw data and allowing the client’s engineers to view real-time and historical data from anywhere in the world.

The control system is fully integrated from the field to the control room, and also allows secure access by engineers in Adelaide wherever in the world the plant may currently be located.

This is done using equipment from integration partners Allen Bradley by leveraging the versatility of the HART protocol.

The 2013 PACE Zenith Mining, Minerals & Exploration Awards are sponsored by Schneider Electric Australia.
Read more: Schneider Electric's solutions enable organisations to operate competitively and efficiently

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