Using tech to solve the previously unsolvable

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022

Introducing the Hydrofloat Coarse Ore Flotation (COF) circuit has fundamentally changed the optimal economic grind at which Cadia Valley Operations can operate.

Senior Plant Metallurgist from Newcrest Mining Emily Jaques won the Maptek 2022 Woman in Resources Technological Innovation for her work on implementing the Hydrofloat for the NSW site.

‘The main purpose of the Hydrofloat was for us to recover coarse or larger particles as well as those with low liberation or a small amount of mineral available on the surface,’ Jaques says.

‘Both of these impact the ability for a particle to become attached to the bubble and actually recover into concentrate.’

Conventionally, to help recover these particles the operation would have to grind them up, or impart more energy, to make them smaller and create fresh surfaces.

‘By using a technology that has been used in other industries, such as potash, and bringing it into sulphides and hard rock mining meant we were actually able to specifically  target those particles that we wanted to float without having to have the big capital or operating costs to maintain a lot of regrind capacity.

Changing the optimal economic grind industry-wide benefits.

‘For greenfield projects, this could fundamentally change whether or not it’s an economic project and for projects that are already existing, it can be the difference between whether or not they can operate for another five years or another 15 years, for example.

‘It also opens up the option for dry stacking. The Hydrofloat tailings are coarse and very high percent solids which is great for dam construction as well as minimising water waste out on the tailings dams itself.

‘It really does open up a lot of opportunities to improve recovery, but then also improve the environmental impacts of mining.

‘Projects like this where we’re using innovative solutions can really fundamentally change the industry.

Jaques was proud to be recognised with the Maptek Award at the BHP Women in Resources National Awards, hosted by the Mineral Council of Australia in October.

‘Innovation to me is using novel technologies to solve problems that were previously unsolvable.

I think the key point of why it’s great to be recognising women is to get our stories out there is that hearing our stories, seeing what these women have achieved helps promote people to come into the mining industr

Having these conversations really opens up to a lot of women, and particularly young women, an understanding of what mining or the resource sector can provide.

Maptek began sponsoring the award in 2020 and the previous winners were Larnie Mackay for her pioneering digitisation of underground coal mining at Anglo American Metallurgical Coal and Alison Van Lent for her work on FUSE, a sophisticated 4D digital twin platform created by the Intelligent Assets team at Woodside Energy.

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