Optimization in Action

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In today’s environment, Mining, Minerals, and Metals (MMM) plant managers continuously face new challenges and requirements, including the need for:

  • Higher energy efficiency
  • Increased run lengths
  • Reduced product quality variability
  • Reduced emissions
  • Higher availability
  • Lower operating costs

Operating a unit to meet these challenges in real time is not easy for operators and conventional process control systems. The good news, however, is that innovatively using existing technologies in MMM plants can improve operations on a minute by minute basis and reap significant benefits. This is achieved through optimization.

mineral processing operations

Optimization can extract the maximum performance benefits from existing equipment while respecting plant operating constraints. Expensive capital projects to upgrade equipment are not always necessary . Advanced Process Control (APC) can deliver significant economic benefits by maintaining your plant at its most profitable point as conditions change. And while this technology is readily available, more than 75% of minerals processing plants still using basic control strategies.

Asking The Right Questions is the First Step to Success

Opportunities for optimization and their benefits come in many forms, and not all of them are obvious. Asking the right questions will show you where to direct your efforts.

  • Do some operators run your plant more profitably than others?
  • Is your plant operating at its highest production rate potential, or market demand?
  • Can optimized control improve the product yield and/or energy efficiency of your plant?
  • Can optimized control improve the uptime for your plant?
  • Can optimized control on a unit generate operating benefits in downstream units?
  • Do feedstock costs, energy costs, or product prices vary?

Typical Benefits and Plant Applications

The benefits for applying process optimization to systems depend greatly on a unit’s unique characteristics. Here are a few customer examples that illustrate some commonly-achieved benefits:

  • Maximizing Feed and Production Rate: APC smoothed out furnace operations for a set of twelve nickel reduction furnaces and raised the feed by 24% while respecting all equipment constraints
  • Maximizing Equipment Utilization: APC reduced damaging high temperature in a copper flash smelting unit by 52% while increasing the average reactor temperature by 6°C, improving reactor efficiency. Extended the shutdown interval from 12 months to 18 months.
  • Stabilizing a Rotary Multi-hearth Furnace: APC systems can explicitly model the process interactions in rotary multi-hearth furnaces, allowing much tighter control of the hearth temperatures and thus,  achieve metallurgical objectives. The result has been significant improvements in product quality after implementing optimizing controls.

Experience has demonstrated a Return on Investment (ROI) of as short as a few weeks for MMM plant optimization systems.

To learn more, watch our webinar on “The Impact of New Advanced Process Control Trends on Minerals Processing Operations”.  This webinar demonstrates how you can identify the most promising opportunities for applying optimization systems in your plant. View Now.

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