We provide vital process flowsheet operating data for engineering design, scale-up purposes, process plant upgrade and production of marketing samples.
There are some inherent shortcomings from bench scale or batch testwork that can limit the usefulness of data for process plant design. These shortcomings arise from the small scale batch operated laboratory equipment and testing procedures, which do not properly replicate and demonstrate the operation of full scale continuous process plant equipment. Factors might include:
- Particle size distribution
- Influence of process and reaction time
- Effect of process machinery size on process plant performance
- Behaviour and disposition of by-products and unfinished fractions such as middlings, scavenger concentrates, or cleaner tailings
- Implication of recirculating streams carrying ore and reagents
- Limitations associated with the quality of samples available for bench scale testwork
Even if the metallurgical end results are the same, the above shortcomings of bench scale testwork will create a gap in the design criteria that may only be filled by the operation of a larger scale continuous pilot plant.
Within reason, pilot plants can be used to examine alternative process flowsheets, and produce con-centrates and other products for downstream process design testwork such as pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical processing of concentrates. Pilot plants are also used for the study of instrumentation and control units within a specified process plant, and to evaluate speciality equipment such as ultrafine milling machines and high pressure grinding rolls.
ALS has a comprehensive array of pilot plant equipment that can be assembled to suit most mineral process and extractive metallurgical unit operations. All our pilot plant equipment and circuits have been designed with many years of piloting experience, together with in-depth consultation with our mining and process engineering company clients and industry partners. There is often no substitute for pilot testing when it comes to reducing technical and commercial risk. Data generated from our pilot plants provides a high degree of confidence in the full scale process plant design criteria and ensures the feasibility study is truly bankable.
Extractive and Mineral Processing Pilot Plants
In hydrometallurgical processes, recycled solutions, electrolytes, and organics must be studied for days to detect the accumulation of so-called undesirable contaminants in the final products. In such process operations, the inclusion of a pilot plant test program during the study phase of the project is often indispensable and of crucial importance.
ALS has a variety of extraction processing pilot plant installations for a variety of minerals and commodities including:
- Heap Leach Amenability Column Testing Pilot Plants
- High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) Pilot Plant
- Atmospheric Leach Pilot Plant
- Continuous Pilot and Mini Pilot Scale Leaching Circuits
- Ion Exchange Resin Pilot Plants
- Solvent Extraction Pilot Plants
An extensive range of ancillary and support services supports our bench and pilot programs. ALS has state-of-the-art in-house analytical facilities, fully staffed with personnel experienced in the accurate analysis and measurement of metallurgical testwork products, including radionuclide concentrations.
These analytical facilities are critical to the performance of extractive metallurgical pilot plants, with rapid turn-around of high precision and high quality analytical results from spot and survey samples removed during pilot operation. The rapid analysis of these samples is fundamental to the smooth operation of pilot plant campaigns.
Our leading edge in-house team of mineralogists offer supporting services such as QEMSCAN®, X-Ray Diffraction, HyLogger™, and optical microscopy techniques to complement bench and pilot scale metallurgical studies.
Mineral processing forms an important and integral part of metallurgical process plants. The production of mineral concentrates and other product streams of correct physical and chemical characteristics for downstream extraction processing can often make or break a project. A pilot plant is often best way to demonstrate and confirm the flowsheet design for production of these products.
At ALS, we have extensive mineral processing pilot plant equipment to suit a variety of circuit flowsheets, either as unit operations or in combination with other equipment. These include:
- Pilot SABC (AG/SAG) up to 4tph
- High Pressure Grinding Rolls (HPGR)
- Flotation Pilot Plants
- Spiral Concentrator Pilot Plant
- Pilot Dense Media Separation (DMS) Plant
- Allmineral Pilot Jig
- Low Intensity Magnetic Separation (LIMS)
- Wet High Intensity Magnetic Separation (WHIMS)
- Materials handling testing including Transfer Modelling Pilot Plants