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Paper No.

915

TAILINGS DEWATERING AND FILTERING


USING THE METSO VPA FILTER
H G Hedlund 1,*, L Gustavsson1 and A Soderman1

ABSTRACT
Tailings in Mining Industry can be handled in different ways. Today tailings disposal is in focus by
projecting new plants as well as treating and handling of old Tailings dams.The trend today is to
process minerals, detoxify the Tailings and place them as dry surface Deposition or Underground
Backfill. This paper will briefly present five different Mining plants in North and Central America, where
Tailings have to be dewatered for dry depositing.
The Metso-Sala VPA is a filter especially developed for dewatering and drying of Mineral Concentrate
and Mineral Tailings.
Keywords: tailings disposal, dewatering, drying, mineral tailings

INTRODUCTION
Description of VPA Filters
VPA means
V = Vertical Filter Chambers, P = Pressure Filter, A = Airblow Cake Dying.
VPA is a filter specifically engineered for dewatering and drying of mineral concentrates and mineral tailings.

Figure 1. Pressure filter VPA for tailings dewatering

1. Metso Minerals (Sweden) AB, Norrangsgatan 2, SE 73325 Sala, Sweden. Email: info.minerals@metso.com

XXVI INTERNATIONAL MINERAL PROCESSING CONGRESS (IMPC) 2012 PROCEEDINGS / NEW DELHI, INDIA / 24 - 28 SEPTEMBER 2012 01986
HEDLUND et al

Product range
VPA 10 series up to 40 chambers.
VPA 15 series up to 50 chambers.
VPA 20 series up to 50 chambers.
30, 40 or 50 mm deep chambers.
Polypropylene plates.
Rubber membranes.

Advantages/ Key features


Low residual cake moisture.
Low energy requirement.
No air pollution c.f. thermal drying.
Fully automatic operation.
Low maintenance costs due to few moving parts.
High capacity
VPA 10 up to 15 tph.
VPA 15 up to 70 tph.
VPA 20 up to 250 tph.
Low weight design with chambers of machined polypropylene.
Compact layout with pulling hydraulic cylinders.
Easy to replace filter cloths.
Load cells and computer control for optimum dewatering.

Sizes and chamber data

Figure 2. VPA sizes and chamber data

XXVI INTERNATIONAL MINERAL PROCESSING CONGRESS (IMPC) 2012 PROCEEDINGS / NEW DELHI, INDIA / 24 - 28 SEPTEMBER 2012 01987
TAILINGS DEWATERING AND FILTERING USING THE METSO VPA FILTER

Table1. VPA sizes and chamber data


Chamber depth Volume Filter area Drying area
Model 2 2
mm litre m m
VPA 1030 32 20 1.3 0.65
VPA 1040 40 25 1.3 0.65
VPA 1530 32 55 3.4 1.7
VPA 1540 41 68 3.4 1.7
VPA 2040 40 165 7.8 3.9
VPA 2050 52 204 7.8 3.9

A typical dewatering curve with automatic load cell control.

Figure 3.Typical dewatering curve with automatic load cell control

VPA INSTALLATIONS FOR TAILINGS DEWATERING


The main reasons for dewatering of Tailings can be one or all of the following:
Re-circulate the process water (lack of water).
Depositing (space) problems.
Environmental reasons.

Hecla - Greens Creek Alaska USA (Environmental- and Depositing reasons)


The operation of the Greens Creek plant started early 1989.
The plant operates a complex mixed sulphide ore containing silver, gold, zinc and lead. We have supplied
following filters for the dewatering:

XXVI INTERNATIONAL MINERAL PROCESSING CONGRESS (IMPC) 2012 PROCEEDINGS / NEW DELHI, INDIA / 24 - 28 SEPTEMBER 2012 01988
HEDLUND et al

One VPA 1530-16 for Zn Production 1997 115 tonnes/day


One VPA 1530-16 for Pb and Bulk Production 1997 220 tonnes/day
Three VPA 1530-32 for Tailings Production 1997 950 tonnes/day
From Engineering and Mining Journal (Nov. 1991), Simon Walker:
Operation demonstrates how mining can coexist with environmental care in a wilderness area
Greens Creek mine in Alaska has managed to balance its position as the largest American silver producer with an
outstanding record for stringent environmental protection. This is necessary, as the mine is surrounded by a
designated wilderness area in a sensitive Arctic environment.
The only way to reach the mine site is by boat or floatplane, yet none of the work force lives on site.
Of the 950 mt/d tailings production, about 550 mt/d are returned underground after the addition of cement and
water in an automatically controlled batching plant, operated by the fill truck driver. The remaining 400 mt/d is
hauled by a contractor approx. 10 km to the tailings disposal area, where it is compacted and graded before being
hydroseeded to stabilize the surface and minimize the environmental impact.

Environmental compatibility
Greens Creek is unique, and it has shown that even in a highly sensitive environment, adequate compromises
can be achieved between protection and production. Its existence - which required permitting from no fewer than
22 different government agencies - is a testimony to the cooperation that was achieved between the company,
the government, the community and the environmental lobby.

Xstrata Nickel - Raglan Mine, Canada (Re-circulate the process water)

Figure 4. Simplified flow sheet, Raglan Nickel Plant

The Raglan plant is situated in the northern part of the Ungava Peninsula in New Quebec, Canada, 1660 km
North of Quebec city, and 102 km Southeast of Deception Bay on the Hudson Strait. The Plant facilities are all
built in a special way on pillars, because of the location in the perma-frost climate zone.
Metso-Sala supplied two VPA 1530-12 for the nickel concentrate dewatering. The nickel production is 18 t/h
continuous production, and the two VPA filters have a total capacity of minimum 23 t/h. The maximum rest
moisture content is 10% for the concentrate.

XXVI INTERNATIONAL MINERAL PROCESSING CONGRESS (IMPC) 2012 PROCEEDINGS / NEW DELHI, INDIA / 24 - 28 SEPTEMBER 2012 01989
TAILINGS DEWATERING AND FILTERING USING THE METSO VPA FILTER

Three big filters, VPA 2040-46, for the Tailings dewatering were also supplied.
In the government permission for projecting a plant in Raglan one condition for environmental reason was tailings
dewatering.
The VPA Filters have a capacity of 45 t/h each, to the maximum rest moisture of 15%.
From Canadian Mining Journal, June 1997:
Approval to Proceed
Raglan is the first new mine in Quebec to complete an environmental impact statement (EIS). A baseline
environmental study was completed in 1991, and the EIS followed in 1993. The process was dominated by public
hearings involving the governments of Nunavik, Quebec and Canada. Fortyfive specific conditions were attached
to the approvals, which were granted by the provincial government some time later, in May 1995.
Mill tailings will be processed in thickeners and Metso-Sala VPA Pressure Filters so that the final moisture content
is reduced to just 15%. The tails will then be trucked to the tailings impoundment area, where they will be levelled
and frozen. The impoundment area will measure 800 by 800 metres and be defined by dykes.
Every year, individual sections of the impoundment area will be reclaimed by capping them with various materials
to determine how best to prevent oxidation and the creation of acid rock drainage.

MARFORK COAL COMPANY., USA (ENVIRONMENTAL REASONS)


Marfork Coal Company, located in Whitesville, WV is a coal producer in the Central Appalachien mountains.
This Mine and Plant has been in operation since 1993 and has an annually production of approximate 3 million
tons.
The plant was owned by Massey Energy Co. from 1993. In June 2011, Alpha acquired Massey Energy Company
to become Americas third largest coal company.
The products produced in the Marfork plant are high quality Coking Coal, Industrial Coal for energy plants and
Coal pellets.
Working in partnership with Appalachia Synfuel, Marfork Coal has constructed a fine coal Pelletizing plant
adjacent to the preparation plant. Superfines recovered at Marfork are fed by a conveyor to the Synfuel facility
where, through a patented technology, they are formed into a pelletized coal product.
The Marfork Pelletizing Plant was ready for test operation in August 1998. In the process to dewater the coal
fines.
Metso-Sala has delivered two of our filter size VPA 2040-54. The two VPA-filters are designed for a capacity of
40 (dry) tons per hour each filter, to rest moisture in the cake of 22% for the Pelletizing process.
Originally the particle size of the coal fines was, 80% minus 7 microns fed at 15% solids from Jameson flot cells
to the VPA-filters.
Before the Pelletizing process plant was developed all the super fine coal was deposited together with the tailings
water in a tailings dam.
REMARK: Since a few years back, this pellets operation line is closed down and the two VPA-filters are now
used in the fine coal dewatering production.

GOLD CORP - GLAMIS GOLD - EL SAUZAL, MEXICO (DEPOSITING


REASONS)
The El Sauzal Gold mine is located in Chihuahua, Mexico approximately 155 miles South-West of the state
capital, Chihuahua City. The property lies within the Batopilas and Urique mining districts in the South-Western
part of the state and is owned by Goldcorp Inc.

XXVI INTERNATIONAL MINERAL PROCESSING CONGRESS (IMPC) 2012 PROCEEDINGS / NEW DELHI, INDIA / 24 - 28 SEPTEMBER 2012 01990
HEDLUND et al

The El Sauzal mine is an open pit mine and started its operations in 2004. Processing method for the ore is
Dynamic Cyanide Circuit with CIP. The leached residue after washing in different steps is filtered for dry
depositing
Model: (3) VPA 2040-54
Application: Gold Tailings
Cycle time, minutes: 9,0
Total capacity dry tph: 3 x 92
Particle size, k80 - m: 117
Cake moisture: 13

GOLD CORP - MINA MARLIN, GUATEMALA


The Marlin mine in Guatemala is an Open Pit and Underground Gold mine. The mine started as an open pit mine
in late 2005 and during 2012 it will become an underground operation only.
The processing method of the ore is Crushing, Grinding and Cyanide Milling. The leach residue is filtered in a
VPA-filter plant after the detoxifying process. The tailings have a high content of clay and 30% is finer than 10
microns particle size.
Model: (8) VPA 2040-54
Application: Detoxified Gold Ore Tailings
Cycle time, minutes: 26,0
Total capacity dry tph: 8 x 25
Particle size, k80 - m: 100-110
Cake moisture: 19-21

REFERENCES
Raglan Nickel Plant: CIM Bulletin, October 2000, Heather Ednie.

Greens Creek: Engineering and Mining Journal, Nov. 1991, Simon Walker.

Raglan Nickel Plant: Canadian Mining Journal, June 1997, Jane Werniuk.

www.alphanr.com

www.goldcorp.com

www.goldcorpguatemala.com

XXVI INTERNATIONAL MINERAL PROCESSING CONGRESS (IMPC) 2012 PROCEEDINGS / NEW DELHI, INDIA / 24 - 28 SEPTEMBER 2012 01991