For customers looking for answers about how best to separate and concentrate particles, mineral processing specialists Multotec has dedicated testing facilities to do just this.
Its Technology Division boasts fully equipped research and development (R&D) capabilities with a range of specialised facilities. According to Faan Bornman, technology manager at Multotec, a range of testwork can be conducted.
“Much of our testwork comes from customers who are in the early stages of project development,” Bornman says. “They need to understand more about how their minerals or material will separate under given conditions. Often there is not a mathematical model that can predict accurately what they can expect.”
Thorough testwork reduces project risk significantly, providing a solid foundation for the subsequent design and optimisation of process facilities. Bornman notes that physical testwork is usually the best way of finding out how particles will behave in a process plant.
The equipment available includes laboratory-scale wet high-intensity magnetic separators (WHIMS), cyclone rigs, filtration equipment, centrifuges, spiral rigs and a screening research rig. There is even capacity to test water purification methods on mine effluent.
“Extensive test work is especially relevant when a customer is wanting to mine and treat less traditional minerals like lithium or graphite,” he says. “As demand grows for commodities like these, we have had customers bring samples to test how our equipment would perform. In these tests, we trial various methodologies and scientifically record and compare the results.”
The R&D laboratory prepares samples and conducts particle size analysis using equipment such as pressure filters, drying ovens, sieves, shakers, sizers and separating funnels. When chemical analysis is required, samples are sent to outside laboratories.
Bornman highlights that the technology division also receives enquiries from existing customers when they face particular challenges.
“We research the application of different methodologies to customer material, often leading to the development of a new product or improvements to our existing products,” he says. “In addition to providing a solution for the customer, we are also able to contribute to the efficiency of the industry as a whole, with an updated and commercialised product.”
With the growth of environmental awareness, there is also considerable scope for applying separation technology in the field of recycling, he says. Multotec has successfully conducted testwork on electronic waste, for example, and has also been requested to separate metal from plastic in milled material.