Higher demand for metals and increasing operational costs have contributed to the introduction of growing numbers of larger equipment in the minerals processing industry. The dramatic increase, for example, in float tank cell sizes over recent years has seen the units grow from 100m3 to cells now with capacities of 300m3 and 500m3. While these larger units reduce capex and opex costs per capacity installed, they also set higher requirements for reliability and quality of cell operation. Additionally, the geometric dimensions of large flotation cells lower the ratio between froth surface area and cell volume. This promotes higher overall froth stability, but also increases sensitivity to feed variation. These factors, together with the complexities of mining lower grade orebodies, have propelled the need for effective automation technology. density methods make it difficult to achieve accurate level measurements in the flotation cell for methods that use direct ultrasonic instruments or hydrostatic pressure, Also, due to capacity margins in the circuit design, control valves often only operate at <30%, below the optimum range of 30-60% and with cells typically in a series, feedback slurry level control loops are highly interconnected, making effective control very difficult. Feed disturbances travel slowly through the cell bank as each cell separately compensates for the disturbance, affecting the set point of the following cell. While flotation aeration rate is less complex than slurry level control, fine tuning needs to be done with care, as operators often adjust the process by changing the set

Author: Brian McPherson

points of aeration rates in the cells. On-line froth surface analysis systems, such as FrothSense™, focus on the stabilisation and controllability of the froth bed. The metallurgical performance of the flotation cell is highly dependent on the froth bed and its properties, with froth stability being one of the key factors for the successful operation of a cell. Froth analysis systems constantly analyse the high quality image data of froth and determines important information, such as froth speed, bubble size, colour and stability. Continuous and on-line froth speed measurements allows significant stabilization for the cell operation, as froth flow rate can be automatically controlled by manipulating air and level, and thus removing subjectivity

For decades typical flotation cell control has consisted of two basic control loops with associated instrumentation for slurry level and flotation aeration rate, with both feedback loops using the PI form of the PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative) algorithm. However, thick froth beds and variations in slurry Output SEAP September 2012 / 15

outotec. a FrothMaster 2 image analysis system (predecessor of FrothSense™) was installed in December 2007. connection cabinets. The other information has proved valuable at least from process monitoring and diagnostics this case. 3 x TankCell . For technical specifications. The system supports virtually any network topology. AUTOMATION IN ACTION At Macraes Gold Mine. For smaller systems. a third generation on-line froth surface analysis system. AusIMM Tenth Mill Operators’ Conference. (updated each second for each measurement). SIMPLE UPGRADING Built on the success of its predecessor. simpler installation. there is practically no restriction for the number of imagers that a system can have. analysis server and software license. Often froth speeds can be correlated with grades and recoveries obtained in the circuit. improved software and system architecture. (up to 4 imagers). FrothSense™ includes control of froth speed with air and level. performance and maintenance. the new FrothSense™ system offers improved reliability. Apart from this system. Measurements are updated each second. froth stability and froth colour (RGB and CIE-LAB). enabling operators to achieve total process control and optimization.300s.and reducing operator error. The imagers feature an advanced Power over Ethernet (PoE) solution that makes it possible to transmit all data and power for both the camera and the LED lights with just one standard ethernet cable. Current FrothMaster users upgrading to FrothSense™ will benefit from enhanced features such as the high quality digital camera. bubble size distribution. for instance. A typical FrothSense™ installation has several froth imagers mounted on top of flotation machines. each with over 300m3 active capacity. Output SEAP September 2012 / 16 stabilising effect on cell performance. FCCs are networked to an analysis server. This feature is especially useful in process studies. as well as parallel computing for faster update rates. each of which can host up to 16 imagers. (Macraes was the first site in the world to install and successfully operate ‘large’ flotation cells . a froth velocity control and a level control system which utilises adaptive feedforward compensation were also installed at the rougher-scavenger flotation circuit and go to downloads to get the latest FrothSense™ brochure. as well as faster. or if the need arises to develop new algorithms in FrothSense™. FrothMaster 2™. in order to faster identify emerging change in ore feed to process. Statistical data related to these variables provides consistent information 24 hours a day. or servers which runs the necessary machine vision algorithms and acts as an interface to the plant automation network using OLE for Process Control. visit www.) Further details on Macraes can be found in the paper ‘Optimising large flotation cell performance through advanced instrumentation and control’ from Proceedings p 299-304. a wireless Wi-Fi option is also available. FROTHSENSE™ SYSTEM Launched in 2011. FrothSense™. Imagers connect to field connection cabinets (FCC). Dual LED lights have replaced the single light to provide increased stability and FROTHSENSE™ SYSTEM SPECIFICATION The system is delivered as an operational package containing froth imager assemblies. for example. The results from this installation show significant . By default. In addition to the online analyses of FrothSense™. the captured image data can be saved for future inspection. provides real-time measurements and statistics of froth speed and direction. such as the star or ring configurations with copper or optical fibre and is equipped with IP67-rated connectors that eliminate the need for opening the cabinet when connecting cameras. Due to high performance analysis and modularity.

Automation for Outotec in Perth. Australia. 48 Ord Street. click here to contact brian. installing a new automation system will provide the necessary fine tuning to process control. Melbourne (between Bourke Street and Little Collins).pollard@internode. With lower installation costs than in previous years and faster commissioning. the Celtic Club. Brian has over 20 years experience in minerals processing and worked previously in the Service Department dealing with mills.. yet will ensure optimal operation of the key process section of the concentrator. If you would like more information.COM Output SEAP September 2012 / 17 . automation and training. flotation. 5. 5. The same ACT platform makes it also possible to expand one step more towards optimization.30pm for 6pm Tuesday 23 October.The highlights. the FrothSense™ system is embedded with Outotec ACT froth speed control application. with self-supporting module.. makes optimum use of the footprint and offers user-friendly inspection of equipment and installation. 5. resulting in consistent mass pull and increased recovery from the flotation cells. Hobart. resulting in lower capital cost for instrumentation. Invitation to the 2012 series of the AusIMM Metallurgical Society GD Delprat Distinguished Lecture Co-sponsored by To be presented by Emeritus Professor Alban Lynch AO HonFAusIMM Mineral processing during the 20th Century . Vice Chair MetSoc: Peter. The lectures are free. Hotel Grand Chancellor. lighter mechanical design. West Perth. crucial for accurate image analysis. Brian McPherson is currently Applications Engineer .mcpherson@outotec.30pm for 6pm preceding the AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference. thickeners. reducing maintenance and inspection time.Tilyard@MMG. readily configured to control froth speed by manipulation of air and level. To further enhance the capabilities and stabilizing effect of real-time froth About the author. Chair Metallurgical Society: david.on. LOW INVESTMENT FOR MASS PULL AND RECOVERY Having larger cells means there are fewer cells to control and monitor. what comes next? MELBOURNE: PERTH: HOBART: ENQUIRIES: Thursday 25 October. refreshments will be available prior to lectures. by implementing a comprehensive grade-recovery system for the optimisation of the entire flotation or Peter Tilyard.reliability in the lighting conditions. 1 Davey Street. The unit’s new. A FrothSense™ system is a relatively small investment in comparison to the overall project outlay. why they occurred. In this current role Brian helps customers optimize automation and sampling installations in both new projects and brownfield operations. David Pollard. CQ Functions. 113 Queen Street.30pm for 6pm Sunday 28 October.

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