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The Right Tools in the Right Place: How Xstrata Nickel Australasia Increased Ni Throughput at its Cosmos Plant

Dan Curry, Michael Cooper, Tom Shouldice, Josh Rubenstein, and Michael Young

7th International Mineral Processing Seminar PROCEMIN 2010 Santiago, Chile December 2010

Presentation Outline
Background The De-Bottlenecking Challenge Where We Started

The Opportunities
Final Flow Sheet Does It Work?

XNAs Cosmos Concentrator in Western Australia

Background on Cosmos
Started in 1999 by Jubilee Mines NL Concentrator built from used equipment with three year LOM High grade (7% Ni), coarse pentlandite, low impurities (exhausted)

In February 2008, Xstrata assumed management control of Jubilee

mines and established XNA Current feed 4% Ni, stringer sulphides, significant Mg and As, and harder ore Mine could easily out-produce mill

Debottlenecking of mill required to improve NPV

The De-bottlenecking Challenge

As part of XNAs growth strategy, the following targets were set:

Increase Ni feed capacity from 1.3 tph to 2.8 tph (115%)

Increase mass flow capacity through the SAG mill from 25 to 45 tph (80%) Add capability to treat ores with impurities Project developed and managed in-house.

A$ 3.4 M budget

Original Flowsheet

Capacity: 25 t/h SAG feed 1.3 t/h Ni flotation feed

Note: Unusual recirculation of cleaner tail and concentrate

Opportunity - Comminution
Jaw crusher and CVs could easily cope with tonnage increase

SAG mill had spare capacity based on float feed characteristics

Very high Pe and Gn liberation from SAG More like a cleaner feed than a rougher feed

Opportunity to increase SAG throughput and coarsen grind without reducing rougher /scavenger recovery

Opportunity Flotation & Filtration Capacity

1.3 2.8 t/h Ni required additional float and filter capacity

Flotation technologies selected on delivery time and characteristics. Self aspirating devices minimised capital.

Jameson : 14 weeks, froth washing, fine particle collection Wemco : 20 weeks, coarse particle collection
Existing 24 m2 filter replaced with new 32 m2 Larox

Opportunity Skim Cell as Rougher 1

As the SAG throughput increased, the grind coarsened This meant less liberated Pe in SAG cyclone U/F (Skim feed) Skim Cell performance deteriorated in SAG recirc load Skim Cell re-piped to take SAG cyclone O/F (first rougher)

Opportunity Primary Cleaning

Significant (22% w/w) liberated NSG in rougher concentrate A single cleaning stage could reject NSG and increase Ni grade Supported by limiting grade recovery curve

Opportunity Regrinding
Coarser SAG grind increased composites in final concentrate

Test work supported regrinding prior to secondary cleaning

Opportunity Regrinding
M500 IsaMill installed using low wear inert ceramic media

IsaMill is industry standard for regrinding in this size range

Sized from data base information no test work Target grind P80 = 20 m achieved

New Flow Sheet

Each stage has a specific role Skim, Wemco and Jameson as rghr/scav - for Ni recovery Old rougher cells used as cleaners for MgO rejection Old cleaner cells used as recleaner for As rejection
Nickel Recovery Rghr Rghr Scavs Tail

Rougher/ Scavenger

MgO Rejection


Prim Clnr

Sec Clnr
Clnr Scav


Arsenic Rejection



Results SAG and Ni Throughput

50 45 40



95% of budgeted tonnes milled in 2009 87% of design t/h achieved Further improvement in t/h needed Priority challenge for 2010

Mill Throughput (tph)

35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
2008 Jan-09 Feb-09 Mar-09 Apr-09 May-09 Jun-09 Jul-09 Aug-09 Sep-09 Oct-09 Nov-09 Dec-09

2000 1800 1600



Planned mined grades not achieved New circuit not pushed on Ni t/h Residence time seems adequate

Concentrator Ni Feed tpm

1400 1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0

2008 Jan-09 Feb-09 Mar-09 Apr-09 May-09 Jun-09 Jul-09 Aug-09 Sep-09 Oct-09 Nov-09 Dec-09

Results Flotation

Pentlandite recovery improved in each size fraction

Results Overall (to 12 Dec 2009)


Final Concentrate Grade (%Ni)

28 26 24 22 20 18 16 14 12 10 70



2010 Budget







Recovery (%Ni)
Concentrator availability in 2009 (despite major changes) = 96.8 %


XNA XT Vendors Cosmos Site

For permission to publish For assistance with commissioning and optimisation For (almost) doing what was promised For managing and supervising the project (and living with the result)

Thank You