A zinc circuit cleaner column at the Red Dog concentrator, equipped with previous sparger (left), and following conversion to EFD CavTubes (right).
A zinc circuit cleaner column at the Red Dog concentrator, equipped with previous sparger (left), and following conversion to EFD CavTubes (right).

Teck Resources, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based major producer of base metals, metallurgical coal and energy products, recently completed a comparative sparger analysis at its Red Dog concentrator in Alaska. That analysis, according to Eriez Manufacturing Co., resulted in a decision to replace all of its existing spargers with CavTube spargers from Eriez’s Flotation Division (EFD).

Formerly known as Canadian Process Technologies Inc., EFD is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eriez Manufacturing Co. EFD provides advanced testing and engineering services, in addition to sparging and column flotation equipment for the mining and mineral processing industries.

Red Dog is the world’s fourth-largest lead-producing mine and one of the top three producers of zinc and lead concentrates. Its cleaner columns were originally designed to be aerated with spargers from another supplier. Beginning in late 2012, the metallurgical staff at Teck began a long-term comparative analysis where EFD’s CavTubes were run under similar conditions and compared against the original units. The CavTube design allows for direct replacement of the existing spargers with no column modifications required, according to Craig Hutchinson, product manager–sparging systems for EFD.

“Teck concluded that the wear life of the CavTubes was significantly longer and provided a significant performance advantage in terms of reduced maintenance, longer life, fewer unscheduled shutdowns and improved safety from the elimination of slurry leaks,” Hutchinson said. “The EFD CavTube has less wear because the abrasive flow of slurry does not directly impinge on the internal geometry of the sparger.”

As a result of the analysis at Red Dog and following a number of premature sparger failures at its new Highland Valley Copper mill optimization in British Columbia, Teck is also converting the original spargers installed at HVC to CavTube spargers, according to Hutchinson.

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