Glencore's innovative solutions maximise mining value - Part 3

Mount Isa Mines and Glencore Technology have been at the forefront of developing innovative processes and technologies at its own sites that have been successfully implemented into many of the worlds' largest mining operations.

With orebodies becoming increasingly more complex to process, declining metal prices and rising costs, Mount Isa Mines mitigates the impact of these challenges through engineering innovative break-through solutions.

The technology arm of Mount Isa Mines, Glencore Technology, is dedicated to marketing our innovations around the world, and continuing to develop technology and solutions to improve efficiencies and keep mining operations viable.

In part three and the final instalment of this series, Resourceful will explore these state-of-the-art mining, smelting and processing technologies, focussing on the Albion Process™, HyperSparge™ and ZipaTank™.

Albion Process™

Initially developed in 1994 for Glencore's zinc processing operations, the Albion Process™ technology has found a valuable role in refractory gold processing with two large sites in the Dominican Republic and Armenia using the technology for their highly complex orebodies.

The Albion Process™ is a combination of ultrafine grinding and oxidative leaching at atmospheric pressure. Base or precious metal concentrates are fed into the Albion Process™ and the sulphides in the feed are oxidised and liberated, allowing the wanted metals to be recovered by conventional means.

By using the Albion Process™, these sites now have a more efficient and simple way of recovering gold. While other technologies can perform similar work, they tend to involve far more complex processes and are not as cost-effective as the Albion Process™.

Considered as 'enabling technology', some orebodies would be considered uneconomical if processed by using other methods but these are able to be mined and processed thanks to the Albion Process™.

The first stage of the Albion Process™ is ultra-fine grinding of the concentrate, using the energy efficient IsaMill™ technology. After the concentrate has been finely ground, the slurry is then leached, in agitated vessels and oxygen is introduced to the leach slurry to oxidise the sulphide minerals using Glencore Technology's HyperSparge™ supersonic injection lances.

ZipaTank™

The ZipaTank™ is an innovative approach to slurry storage and leaching tanks that incorporates modular components and mechanical joins to provide all the benefits of a traditional welded tank, but with lower costs, reduced installation times and far greater flexibility.

The ZipaTank™ consists of individual components that are sized for transport in standard 40 foot international shipping containers.

These components are connected to form the tank shell and the tank base using a mechanical join that can be rapidly installed with little or no site welding. The ZipaTank™ mechanical joins are designed to be as strong as a welded joint.

All of these innovations have been applied, tried and tested at Glencore's own operations and others around the world, significantly maximising the value of finite mineral assets and contributing towards supplying essential resources to the world.

HyperSparge™

The HyperSparge™ is a cost efficient system, which uses less power and reagent consumption when compared to other methods.

It delivers air, oxygen or other process gases using an alloy steel injection lance fitted with a hard wearing ceramic nozzle to inject a concentrated supersonic jet of gas into a tank of solution or slurry for leaching or oxidation processes to take place.

The HyperSparge™ technology is also versatile, and is able to be adopted and used in industries other than mining, including wastewater treatment and fermentation for brewing, food and beverage and pharmaceuticals.

As proven with the grouping of the IsaMill™, Albion Process™ and HyperSparge™ technologies, one of the major advantages of Glencore Technology's innovations is that they are able to work together, and by doing so are making a big impact in providing innovative solutions to complex situations.