Mining Flocculation in Minas Gerais, Brazil

I’m currently traveling in Brazil, specifically around an area called Minas Gerais (General Mines). As the name suggests, mining is the main industry in Minas Gerais; they extract almost every ore you can imagine to make metals from aluminum to zinc.

Mining Flocculation in Brazil

If you look at this hazy picture, you can see a conveyer belt at the entrance to a mine on top of a hill. If you look in the mountain side, you can see there is a strip of grass that is paler than the rest. This is an iron seem close to the surface. The iron leeches into the ground and affects the way the grass grows changing its color. Pretty cool!

Many of these companies have flocculation processes that aren’t optimized – meaning their gravity thickeners are bigger and more expensive than they need to be. They also spend way too much on flocculant (expensive stuff) and throughput is low because the settling rate is too slow. I’m trying to help them with all this. It is pretty cool because a lot of the time they do not think it can be fixed. But when you chat to them and do some experiments in the lab they see huge potential in using FBRM and PVM to improve their flocculation processes.

FBRM is perfect for tracking flocculation because it tracks particle dimension AND count! During flocculation, the particle size increases as the particle number decreases. FBRM tracks this brilliantly! It is also in-process which is vital as flocs break apart when sampled making characterization notoriously difficult.

On July 21, my colleague, Eric Dycus, is presenting a webinar on flocculation which will describe how FBRM and PVM are used in many industries, including mining.  Eric will be able to describe it all much better than I can here.