As noted in our review of Scandinavian mining technology, beginning on p. 88, Metso Group’s Metso Minerals division perceived a need several years ago to maximize the revenue potential of its widely distributed business units, and introduced “whole product thinking” to combine product sales with installation, commissioning, operator training, ongoing support with IT links and maintenance. An important role in the application of this concept involved the Metso Minerals Process Technology unit (MMPT).
Subsequently, MMPT has morphed into the Process Technology and Innovation (PTI) group, with a focus on providing industry with Total Process Integration and Optimization services. Metso uses the term “Total Process” to encapsulate the mining (drill and blast), comminution, flotation, leaching and dewatering processes and explains that PTI studies aim to optimize each process within the constraints imposed by the operation of the other processes.
Projects are tailored to suit the requirements of the customer, but usually involve a site visit to collect historical data and information, collect current operational data, complete mine and plant audits, surveys, detailed data analysis, mathematical modeling and simulations. Data collected from these site visits is processed and results are supplied in a report with conclusions and recommendations to the customer. Often subsequent visits are then arranged to assist in the implementation of report recommendations.
These optimization and continuous improvement services deliver significant impacts to clients, according to Metso, which said that PTI has been able to deliver considerable increases in the production of customers’ operations with little or no capital expenditure on their part.
These increases, said the company, typically range from 5%–20%, representing millions of dollars in increased revenue. The improvement services have been successfully applied to increased production (throughput and metal recovery); cost and energy reduction; as well as overall process efficiency increases (from the mine to the plant), Metso claims. In order to provide solutions and maintain the benefits of the optimization and continuous improvement services, PTI works extensively and closely with the mining operations. It is common for team members to spend 30%–50% of their time on site.
PTI provides the following services to the mining and aggregate industries:
- Total process integration and optimization;
- Design of the complete comminution and flotation process, including trade-off studies involving equipment from within and outside of the Metso portfolio;
- Selection of specific unit operations;
- Full suite of commissioning and start-up support;
- Site and remote optimization support;
- Throughput forecast modeling (from mine-to-mill);
- Geometallurgical modeling;
- Fine and ultra fine grinding modeling and simulation;
- Flotation modeling and simulation;
- Laboratory test work (crushing, milling and flotation); and
- Higher level (principles oriented) operator training.
These services are are sold on a consulting basis (charged per day) or other commercial basis (e.g., gain sharing, Improved Performance Alliance agreements, etc). The services and products can also be combined with an agreement or packaged with a Metso equipment purchase.
The global consulting and laboratory services provided to customers from PTI facilities in Australia and South America are strategically located close to major mining operations and therefore to Metso Minerals’ main customers. The combination of lab and consulting resources, said Metso, also makes it the only organization able to provide customers with greenfield (design) and brownfield (optimization) services.
The services are complemented by instrumentation and products, also supplied and supported by PTI, designed to enhance the operation of mineral processes, including systems for ore tracking (SmartTag), SAG mill acoustic monitoring (SmartEar), and detecting rips and other damages to conveyor belts (SmartRip). In addition, there is an online charge volume estimator (SmartCharge) and an oline dynamic SAG mill model (SmartSAG).