Glencore's innovative solutions maximise mining value – Part 2

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 two of this three part series, Resourceful will explore these state-of-the-art mining, smelting and processing technologies, focussing on the Jameson Cell™ and BBOC™.

Innovations conceived, developed and refined by Glencore include: ISASMELT™ smelting technology, BBOC™ precious metal refining technology, ISAKIDD™ copper electrowinning and electrorefining technology, the IsaMill™ fine grinding technology, the Isa Process™ copper refining technology, Jameson Cell™ flotation technology, the Albion Process™ enabling technology, the HyperSparge™ technology, and ZipaTank™.

Jameson Cell™

Developed in the late 1980s, the Jameson Cell™ is known as a versatile technology used for a range of minerals and applications in every mining region in the world.

It is Glencore Technology's most diverse product, and in 2017 Glencore sold its 350th cell. It is installed in 28 countries, with the Mark IV Jameson Cell™ being the most recent model.

The Jameson Cell™ is a high-intensity froth flotation cell typically used as part of the cleaning circuit in a Concentrator Plant. The cells can also operate in conjunction with Glencore Technology's IsaMill™ circuits, also developed at Mount Isa Mines in the early 1990s.

The technology works by creating a high pressure jet of slurry that entrains and mixes air in a modified pipe, referred to as a 'downcomer', to create very fine air bubbles. The particles or valuable minerals attach themselves to the air bubbles and float to the surface in the tank section of the Jameson Cell™ where they are recovered for further processing.

While the principle of using air bubbles to recover particles is the basis of mineral flotation, it is the fast and efficient way air bubbles are generated and how the bubbles and particles interact that make Jameson Cell™ unique, ensuring its worldwide use in the mining industry.

In 2015, the Jameson Cell™ won the Prime Ministers Award for Innovation, recognising the importance of this technology and the role it plays contributing towards a prosperous Australian economy.

The Jameson Cell™ has played a significant role in increasing efficiency to recover particles and unlock the potential of previously unrecoverable particles that would have otherwise been discarded as waste material.

BBOC

The BBOC™ – Bottom Blown Oxygen Cupel – is a major advance in precious metal refining technology.

It is a smelting furnace with a sealed, flat-bottomed furnace mounted on a tilting frame used to recover metals. It works by injecting oxygen directly into the reaction zone of the furnace (the cupel), improving process performance and oxygen use.

BBOC™ technology is installed in over a dozen sites worldwide and some advantages include its very high oxygen efficiency, reduced off-gas, good process control, better quality products and higher recoveries of metals.

The technology is well suited to most refining duties where base metals are selectively oxidised and eliminated from precious metal product, such as slimes bullions, PGM-bearing feeds, high purity silver refining and retorted parkes crust.

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.