A five-year industry/academic strategic research agreement will focus on development of  technologies needed for construction of a next-generation minerals concentrator.

A five-year industry/academic strategic research agreement will focus on development of
technologies needed for construction of a next-generation minerals concentrator.

Metso has signed a strategic research agreement with the University of Queensland’s JKTech division to develop next-generation technologies and services for energy-efficient minerals concentration. The five-year agreement is part of a program in which Metso and JKTech SPA will cooperate with leading Chilean mining companies to develop Chile as a regional innovation hub for minerals processing. The research work will be conducted at existing mines in Chile with a focus on customer strategic needs. The program’s four principal research themes are primary grinding, ball mill grinding, classification and coarse particle flotation; the main operational targets are productivity, energy and water efficiency.

“The goal of this unique research program is to take some serious steps forward in the development of equipment and methods that will enable the construction of the next-generation mineral concentrator. A very attractive feature of the program is that each technology offers a retrofit possibility to improve existing plant performance and can be utilized at other mines around the world as well,” said João Ney Colagrossi, president of Metso Mining and Construction (and who, as of October 1, will become president-minerals at Metso). “For Metso, the program offers a way to strengthen both our relationship with the leading Chilean mining companies as well as our industry-leading position as the supplier of energy-efficient minerals processing technology and services.”

Professor Benjamin Adair, University of Queensland, will lead the initiative. Dr. Adair, deputy director of the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI), has a long-standing relationship with Metso, particularly in the areas of process control and equipment application in concentrators.

Joining for a Step Change

JKTech SPA and Metso are in discussions with Chilean mining companies that have expressed interest in the research program and the co-creation model for technology development. In addition to resources in Metso, JKTech and the participating mining companies, several experts in the various fields of study have been identified and will participate.

“The ‘Next-Generation Concentrator’ will provide a step change in the energy, capital efficiency and production signatures of process plants for the global minerals industry,” said Dr. Adair.

“This initiative builds on a long-standing relationship with the University of Queensland, specifically with the Sustainable Minerals Institute, SMI-JKMRC and JKTech. Our alliance with Metso will place us on the forefront of genuine sustainability in minerals processing for the mining sector. Our timeframes for implementation are aggressive and we look forward to a suite of innovation outcomes for our co-creation industry partners,” Adair added.

“The industry is talking about energy, water and sustainability, but, so far as we can tell, most of the activity is around incremental developments and fall well short of what is needed to efficiently exploit the orebodies of the future (e.g., lower grades, higher hardness, finer grains). The University of Queensland is an ideal partner for us, as they have been working with the industry for many years and have assembled a kind of road map to the future, which is a very compelling vision and one that we feel is within reach. The current program embodies a number of these concepts and simultaneously aims at reducing the cash cost of production and improving capital effectiveness,” said Kenneth Brame, president-minerals processing solutions at Metso Mining and Construction.

“The rising energy costs, falling ore grades, use of water, and productivity are particularly important operational issues for Chilean mines. The potential of this research program to impact these areas in real-life cases is very exciting. The new program also offers Metso a great opportunity to develop an even better relationship with peers in the customer organizations and to enhance the technical capabilities of Metso in Chile,” added Aldo Cermenati, senior vice president–Pacific Rim market area for Metso Mining and Construction.

JKTech is the technology transfercompany for the SMI of the University of Queensland. JKTech SPA is involved in SMI-ICE Chile, which is an International Center of Excellence in Mining. The center is one of 12 centers established by the Chilean Ministry of Economy and the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO) to develop Chile as a regional innovation hub across a broad range of industries.