Aging, underperforming flotation equipment can have a huge impact on a plant’s metallurgical performance, energy efficiency, and ultimately, its profitability. This can cause challenges in meeting operational targets due to low concentrate output from cells, while equipment breakdowns have a negative impact on availability and high spare parts costs affect operational profitability. Older plants are typically equipped with a large number of cells with relatively small volumes, meaning that metallurgical performance is far from optimal. Furthermore, operations need flexibility over time due to the variation in head grades, and this could require changes in both the capacity and flotation duty of some cells.

Process equipment solutions provider Outotec announced recently that feasibility evaluation of flotation circuit modernization could become much easier due to a new value calculator it has developed. The tool, as described by the company, provides a fast and effective way to evaluate operating cost reductions and the overall value of process improvements that may be achieved by replacing aging flotation cells with Outotec’s TankCell technology. Based on the given parameters and case-specific values for power, slurry and other variables, the tool can recommend a solution and also calculates the savings for the new solution. The calculator also shows how flotation cell replacement affects CO2 emissions. In other words, Outotec noted, the tool provides a quick estimate for achieving a more efficient flotation circuit. Value gains can then be explored further with Outotec experts, based on more detailed variables and site specific considerations. The redesigned circuit will deliver optimized cell volume and size, froth carry rate, and residence time.