June 2021
Volume 73    Issue 6

Tailings filtration using Viper Filtration technology – a case study

Whatnall, Oliver; Barber, Kevin; Robinson, Peter

ABSTRACT:

The investigation and uptake of filtered tailings continues to grow around the world, but cost and scalability are deterrents for mining companies. Filtration technology that is currently in use is unable to meet the needs of many operations and projects that would otherwise adopt filtered tailings. For tailings to reach the desired moisture content for dry stacking, the majority of processes require pressure filtration, with significant upfront and ongoing maintenance costs. Given the comparative lower costs associated with low-pressure Viper vacuum belt filtration, this technology has the potential to alleviate dependency on high-pressure applications and make efficient dewatering and handling of tailings a more economic and sustainable solution.
  Viper Filtration technology is one of many to answer the call from the MEND (2017) Program [1] for the industry to improve technology in support of improved and safer tailings management. By design, the technology leverages the industry-proven vacuum belt filter, thus reducing the extent of new technology which, for the inherently conservative mining industry, is intended to facilitate an increased rate of adoption. Large, multiple vacuum belt filter installations are not uncommon in the mineral-processing industry as they meet the needs of the modern user, including: (1) simple, scalable technology with more than 25 years of operational history in the industry, (2) continuous processing machine with high availability (>90 percent), (3) simplicity of maintenance, for example, operation with a single filter cloth (typical lifetime 6-12 months), (4) low supporting infrastructure costs and complexity, and (5) cake discharge from multiple machines able to be directed to a single overland conveyor.
  Performance in full-scale operation has demonstrated at scale that when complemented with Viper Filtration technology, previously contemplated fatal flaws that limited the applicability of conventional vacuum belt filters, such as inability to effectively dewater tailings at altitude and/or with a fine particle size distribution (PSD), can be overcome, unlocking the technology for dewatering mineral tailings suitable for surface disposal (dry stack), co-disposal or paste backfill as well as mineral concentrate applications.

Full-text paper:
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration, https://doi.org/10.1007/s42461-021-00378-y

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