printer friendly version
Case study: Mogale Gold
July 2010, System Integration & Control Systems Design
Mine tailings are the crushed and milled rock residue that remains after mineral extraction. These tailings must be deposited for storage in a cost effective way that also meets environmental guidelines and mandates. Dams, dumps, and other types of surface piling are some of the more common tailings deposition methods used today. However, these all pose serious environmental concerns, as tailings often contain trace and sometimes substantial quantities of the metals found in the host ore, as well as certain amounts of chemicals and compounds used in the mining processes. As a result, establishing and maintaining tailings dumps represent a significant cost for mining companies.
A New Strategy: Tailing reprocessing
Historically, mineral separation processes have been somewhat inefficient because after the required crushing, grinding and metallurgical treatment, some amount of valuable metal is left behind in the residue. But recently, improved mining technologies and the ever-increasing price of gold in the marketplace have opened the opportunity for mining companies to purchase old mining dumps and treat the tailings in order to recover residual gold. South African miner Mintails is currently focused on exploring, evaluating, and processing hundreds of millions of tons of surface gold bearing tailings in the Witwatersrand area of South Africa. These types of gold reclamation efforts are never 100% efficient, and automation and control plays a significant role in improving the metallurgical processes. With the help of systems integrator Opto Controls, each month Mintails is collecting significant amounts of the valuable metal. In the process, the company is positively impacting the environment by clearing away mountainous, land consuming, and unsightly dumps.
Opto Controls has been a supplier and integrator of hardware and software for industrial automation, remote monitoring, and data acquisition applications for more than 10 years. Specialising in solutions utilising Opto 22 components and systems, Opto Controls’ broad project and industry expertise includes access control and security, print production monitoring, and factory automation. Company president Mike Harrison and process control and programming engineer Adam Carless, head a team contracted by Mintails to assemble and configure an automation system for Mintails’ Mogale Sands Plant This system connects to, monitors, controls and acquires data from a large assortment of field devices, equipment, and instrumentation and also manages the many mechanical and chemical processes used to remove the gold from the tailings.
The Opto Controls system’s key components are Opto 22 rack mount and standalone programmable automation controllers (PACs) and I/O housed in containers located at various areas of a processing plant situated between the gold mine and the dump. “Initially, these controllers were to be networked via fibre-optic cable, but Mintails management later decided to go with a wireless solution from MikroTik so as to avoid having to dig trenches and lay conduit for the cabling,” explains Harrison. The MikroTik platform features a Linux-based operating system, omnidirectional antennas, and wireless communication capabilities utilising all four of the 802.11 standards (a/b/g/n), as well as frequency ranges within the industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands. The system also has meshing capabilities, data transfer speed of up to 350 Mbps, and a range that easily bridges the average distance (about 150 metres) between the Mogale site controllers.
Readers wanting to find out more about the Opto Controls solution architecture for the Tailings Processing System can visit: http://instrumentation.co.za/+C14002
For more information contact Mike Harrison, Opto Controls, +27 (0)11 792 5232, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.opto.co.za
- PCS Global solution meets Nampower’s stringent requirements
January 2017, System Integration & Control Systems Design
Hopsol Africa specialises in the design and construction of solar power plants, targeting commercial, industrial and private customers, as well as direct feed-in independent power supply plants. The recent ...
- PSY International screw compressor becomes energy efficient
January 2017, PSY International, System Integration & Control Systems Design
Control specialist PSY International recently collaborated with compressor specialist, Air Rotory Services, to create an energy-efficient screw compressor.
PSY’s Paul Young believes the key was in using ...
- Case History 152: Control problems with airflows in flotation banks
January 2017, Michael Brown Control Engineering, System Integration & Control Systems Design
I have written quite a few articles specifically dealing with control problems in mineral processing plants that are largely due to poor understanding, and apparently complete lack of concern of control ...
- Endress+Hauser guarantees an efficient CIP process
January 2017, Endress+Hauser, System Integration & Control Systems Design
The CIP system can be automated to any desired level to keep a plant working efficiently within the standards of hygienic quality and safety.
- Comfort aboard the Queen Mary II
January 2017, Beckhoff Automation, System Integration & Control Systems Design
Beckhoff and Danfoss supply HVAC solution for the cruise cabin of the future.
- Stainless steel cylinders for hygienic applications
January 2017, SMC Pneumatics South Africa, System Integration & Control Systems Design
SMC Pneumatics has designed a series of stainless steel cylinders that can be used with utmost confidence in the food and beverage industry, while also offering financial and productivity benefits.
- Autotronix engineers a PLC and HMI based Andon system for plant production
November 2016, Autotronix, System Integration & Control Systems Design
A component supplier to a leading automotive manufacturer recently experienced a problem at its plant, whereby it could not reflect the planned production requirements versus actual production to management ...
- Case History 151: The myths surrounding deadtime dominant processes
November 2016, Michael Brown Control Engineering, This Week's Editor's Pick, System Integration & Control Systems Design
The practice of industrial feedback control is one of the most misunderstood engineering disciplines in the world. The theory was developed by eminent mathematicians in the early 1900s and was based on ...
- Actionable data analytics for control engineers
November 2016, System Integration & Control Systems Design
Just as modern data analytics can support actionable business insights, appropriate actions based on analysis of sensor-based data can provide actionable insights in the industrial process control world. ...
- Saryx – agility and diversity the key to problem solving
October 2016, Saryx Engineering Group, System Integration & Control Systems Design
With a desire to deliver bespoke ICT services and the in-house development of products, Julie Mathieson and Ingrid Osborne started Saryx Engineering Group in 2007. This initiative led to, amongst others, ...
- AWE: Telemetry solutions from wildlife to industrial applications
October 2016, AWE Telemetry Systems, System Integration & Control Systems Design
What started as an after-hours business tracking wildlife has today expanded into an operation that provides telemetry solutions for a wide spectrum of applications. In 2003, wildlife management specialist ...
- Increasing the value of automation for wastewater projects
October 2016, Universal Measurement & Control, System Integration & Control Systems Design
In an uncertain economic environment, water and wastewater plants strive to be efficient, cost-effective and reliable. Every facility needs to maximise its performance and availability. For the economic ...