The engineering design category award, as well as the Chairman's Award for the most exceptional entry of the SABS Design Institute Awards 2000, were won by FrothMaster, a measuring and control instrument for the mining industry designed by Crusader Systems.
Crusader Systems is a high-tech South African company providing modelling technology that creates added value for the process and financial services industries. Since its establishment in 1996, the company has grown to a multidisciplinary team of 30 engineers, computer scientists and financial experts.
A partnership has been formed between Crusader Systems and the Finnish company Outokumpu Mintec, subsidiary of the international metals and technology group Outokumpu, one of the world's largest suppliers of flotation technology, including real-time assay instruments and process control. The FrothMaster technology is being distributed via one of the most extensive international networks in the flotation industry.
FrothMaster is a powerful instrument designed to improve the economics of mining operations. In the flotation process of mineral extraction, mined ore is crushed and milled and then passed through flotation machines. The valuable minerals in the ore rise to the surface as a froth, which is skimmed off the surface of the slurry. Although the process has been used for the last 100 years, the problem has been that the efficiency of the process, and hence the recovery rate and grade of mineral concentrate, has depended on the subjective judgement of the operator.
FrothMaster eliminates operator subjectivity and prevents valuable material from being lost by providing information that was not previously available to allow for smoother plant operation. Problems in the plant are identified and corrected early.
This robust instrument was designed to withstand the harsh mining environment. It consists of a plug-and-play unit incorporating a video camera and a powerful computer. It is easy to install and is compatible with all flotation plant information and control infrastructures. It is suitable for many different mining and minerals processing operations, including: gold, platinum, copper, zinc, molybdenum, nickel, iron, lead, coal, talc, carbonates and phosphates.
With the higher recoveries of valuable minerals, which the instrument allows, low-grade or marginal mines can continue in operation, which means job savings and increased profitability in the mining industry. For example, a 2,5% greater gold recovery translates into additional annual earnings of R14,6 million for a gold mine.
FrothMaster, which is covered by patent rights in 101 countries, has a proven international track record, and is running successfully in mines in South Africa, Australia and Finland.
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