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Through thick and thin


Global engineering and project delivery firm, Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), has designed a new coal processing plant (CPP) for the Clermont Joint Venture mine – a thermal coal production open pit in Bowen Basin, Queensland – offering important opportunities for process control suppliers in a flailing economy. The new greenfields mine will produce up to 12.2mtpa of high-quality thermal coal when it reaches full capacity, and is expected to have a life of about 17 years at this production rate.

The CPP is significant not only for its large capacity, but also because it is the first of its kind to be designed using paste thickening technology, which offers environmental and economic benefits.

“The water demand of a co-disposal system or conventional tailings pumping would not be able to be met at this mine site. The area is simply too dry. This technology allows the CPP to operate and thus process the material that would otherwise have to be left as spoil,” SKM chief mechanical engineer – process & pumping, Peter Stringfellow, told PACE.

“Paste thickening technology is similar to a conventional thickener, however much deeper, producing a thicker (paste) underflow which contains less water – around 50 per cent instead of 65 per cent.”

Technical consultant SKM relied on staffers from its Australian and Asian offices to design the plant, which offers alternatives to the negative impact of coal waste slurry on our environment.

SKM’s design focussed on concepts of sustainability, and in particular solutions for reducing greenhouse gases and water usage, the company said.

According to Stringfellow, there are a number of other mines in Australia that are currently investigating paste thickening technology, with more to follow.

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