As part of a significant investment to improve its processing facilities and enable the recovery of 40% of the gold that currently sits in its tailings as waste, a mining operation in Mexico called in Weba chutes to conduct a thorough assessment on the functionality of existing chutes in the plant.
Leveraging our in-depth knowledge of material behaviour in chute systems, we were tasked with establishing the feasibility of introducing filtered tailings at a rate of 1200 tph onto the existing transfer system currently handling waste with a nominal size of 400 mm at a rate of 5000 tph.
While the intention is for the filtered tailings to be conveyed when the waste rock is unavailable, it would still mean that the same chutes would need to function transferring completely different material. Optimally, one should be able to assess a working transfer chute handling the actual material, however in the case of a feasibility assessment this is not possible, and we therefore started with a review of the test work and studies prepared by independent qualified professional materials handling experts. This was done by calibrating the material conditions and behaviour using Discrete Element Method (DEM).
While many companies do have access to this sophisticated software, not inputting the relevant or correct data can render the output information inaccurate. The feasibility assessment included the transfer of sedimentary dry tailings, sedimentary filter cake, Breccia dry tailings and Breccia filter cake. DEM modeling was done considering material on its own and conditions where blended material would be conveyed. In total, there were four conveyor transfer points that had to be assessed. These included an inline transfer point, a 90-degree transfer point, a transfer from conveyor to radial spreader and a transfer from conveyor to a rotating spreader.