Ease of operation and reduced maintenance costs are the critical parameters that all coal process plants demand. Add to this enhanced productivity, and you have a winning formula according to Johannes Kottmann, managing director of MBE Minerals.
MBE Minerals has been involved in coal beneficiation technology, ranging from basic and detailed engineering to components for complete plants and systems, for more than 100 years. Kottmann is quick to stress that ongoing product improvement has seen equipment upgrades over time to ensure that the latest developments are incorporated into plants.
Each application, whether greenfields or brownfields, is carefully assessed in conjunction with the customer during a comprehensive site visit to determine the optimum solution.
“Our extensive local and international footprint allows the company to leverage the experience and expertise necessary to ensure a profitable and sustainable end result,” Kottmann says. MBE Minerals’ full scope of services includes feasibility studies, raw material testing, financing concepts, erection and commissioning, personnel training and pre- and after-sales service.
MBE Minerals has a reference base of vibrating screens in the African mining industry, from sizing to scalping, dewatering and media recovery. These vibrating screens have a proven track record under arduous and demanding conditions. They are available in a variety of sizes of up to 3.6 m in width and 6.75 m in length, in single or double deck configuration and in either circular or linear motion.
Particular innovations introduced by MBE Minerals include an innovative side plate mounted drive, which means they are much more lightweight than those using vibrator motors. However, screens can be supplied with vibrator motors if necessary, while resonance screens offer the added benefit of lower power consumption.
All types of screening surfaces can be accommodated, with each screen incorporating mechanical design features such as vibration dampening, side plates, cross members and the appropriate feed and discharge chutes.
The PNEUFLOT® pneumatic flotation system was introduced into the market with the first coal flotation installation at Pittston Pennsylvania in the US in 1987. Since then the technology has been used widely for fine coal slurries treatment. Currently PNEUFLOT®’s largest installation base is China and India, with the technology expanding rapidly into Eastern Europe and other parts of Asia.
In 2012 MBE Minerals decided to introduce PNEUFLOT® into the Sub-Saharan market, and to address the key concern that the technology remained untested on South African coals, MBE Minerals invested in a laboratory cell and pilot plant. These units have been used to test material from both the Soutpansberg and the Central Basin over the past year.
The laboratory cell has achieved product with less than 10% ash (feed +50% ash) for a Soutpansberg seam while the pilot plant produced a bulk product sample from the tails of a Central Basin plant fit for market acceptance presentation by a coal major.
“Test work has proved that PNEUFLOT® can produce a Waterberg flotation concentrate with less than 11% ash at yields greater than 33% and organic efficiencies greater than 68%,” Kottmann says.
Prior to the design of an industrial scale flotation plant, laboratory scale test work and where possible semi-industrial pilot test work has to be carried out. The pilot plant can be installed anywhere in an existing circuit as a ‘plug and play’ device and the results generated can be scaled up directly to a full scale application.
MBE Minerals offers a full testing programme in South Africa and Kottmann says the pilot plant works with an agitated feed/conditioning tank with a volume of 1 m³ for batch operations and can accommodate feed rates of up to 10 m3/h for continuous in-plant trials.
PNEUFLOT® technology works effectively at lower operating costs through much lower energy and maintenance and repair costs compared to column or mechanical agitator flotation. Advantages such as no moving parts, low wear and atmospheric aeration, negating the need for a blower or compressor adds value to a user friendly system, together with low maintenance, low costs and low down time.
MBE Minerals’ BATAC® jig technology has undergone extensive test work to prove its capability to deliver increased efficiencies, improved product quality and higher availability and throughput rates.
It represents the latest advances in stratification by means of jigging, one of the oldest separation methods deployed in coal and mineral beneficiation. BATAC® jig technology has developed a reputation for its excellent separation accuracy, combined with a fairly small footprint, which translates into a lower capital cost. This remarkable accuracy is due to electronic control of the air pulse generator and sensing of the thickness and densities of the material layers being separated.
The under-bed pulsated BATAC® jig is ideal for coarse applications from 150 mm down to fine coal in the 10 to 0.5 mm size range, with throughput rates of between 100 and 1 200 tph. “Such excellent performance has ensured that BATAC® jigs are the preferred technology for numerous beneficiation plants the world over,” says Kottmann.
MBE Minerals’ ROMJIG® has proved particularly suitable as a reliable and economical solution in destoning raw coal. Extensive international testing has produced impressive results, with an operational efficiency (imperfection) of I=0.08 to 0.1.
“There was also an overall reduction in the stone handled and indications of a lower percentage of refuse in the washery feed,” Kottmann says. This translates into cost-saving benefits such as reduced wear on machinery and transporting equipment, less grain degradation, less dust and slurry and reduced consumption of flocculation and flotation agents in downstream fines recovery circuits.
“MBE Minerals remains abreast of developments in coal beneficiation technology,” Kottmann comments. “It does this by being part of an international network, which includes the MBE Coal and Minerals’ R&D Centre in Cologne, Germany. This centre consults with customers globally in terms of optimum processing solutions, aided by an in-house laboratory and pilot test work facilities.”
The centre can also provide specific customer training, from general mineral processing to maintenance of MBE Minerals’ equipment. “MBE Minerals has the capability to design, engineer and supply equipment, as well as carry out projects on a turnkey or EPC basis, in addition to operating complete coal processing plants,” Kottmann concludes.