A scientist from Australia’s CSIRO research and technology transfer organization will lead the development of a major new international mining and mineral processing research center based in Santiago, Chile. Developed by CSIRO in collaboration with the University of Chile and industry and research partners, the Chile International Center of Excellence in Mining and Mineral Processing will tackle challenges faced by both the Australian and Chilean mining industries.

Dr. Neal Wai Poi, formerly acting director of CSIRO’s Light Metals Flagship, has been appointed director of the new center. “Australia and Chile have many common current and future challenges that their mining industries need to address. These include processing lower-grade ores, improving water and energy efficiency in remote operations, and deeper open-cut and underground operations,” said Wai Poi.

“The Center of Excellence will have extensive benefits for Australia, including creating new bilateral business opportunities for service companies, improving the efficiency and competitiveness of the industry and advancing scientific research.”

Wai Poi said the center will provide both countries with a unique opportunity to build a world-leading partnership. “The center will facilitate great benefits for Chile, allowing faster access to new and existing technologies in the mining sector, building new and improved technologies and strengthening local capacity to build the services sector through partnership with industry,” Wai Poi said.

The Center of Excellence will be co-funded by the Chilean government and is supported by CICITEM, the University of Antofagasta and industry partners including BHP Billiton Codelco, Anglo American Chile, Antofagasta Minerals and Xstrata Copper as well as local Australian companies.

New ZLD System Aims to Maximize Water Conservation at Oil Sands Project

GS Engineering & Construction (GS E&C) has selected GE to supply the produced water evaporation and zero liquid discharge (ZLD) system for the Blackgold Oil Sands project, located near Conklin, Alberta, Canada.

The Blackgold project will utilize drum boilers to drive the steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) process for extracting bitumen. GE’s integrated evaporator and ZLD system enable the facility to cost-effectively produce 10,000 barrels per day of bitumen and maximize recycled water use, thus preserving Alberta’s fresh water sources.

GE said it has supplied water evaporation and ZLD systems to at least 14 projects since 1999, including three new projects initiated since last fall.

The Blackgold project will include a new, proprietary ZLD process that integrates crystallization and solidification technologies. The solidification process involves mixing a solidifying reagent with the crystallizer waste slurry to produce a solid waste suitable for transport and disposal in a landfill. Solidification of SAGD crystallizer waste results in reduced capital and operating costs compared to drying, which is the only other commercially accepted technology for this application.

The GE equipment will be delivered to the site as a series of pre-fabricated equipment modules complete with piping, wiring and controls. Commercial operation of the Blackgold Oil Sands facility is scheduled for third quarter 2012.

GE also is providing complete system design, training and site support. GE’s agreement is with South Korea-based GS E&C, the builder of the 10,000-barrels-per-day facility that will be operated by Harvest Operations Corp., a subsidiary of the Korean National Oil Corp.