Filtration Solution Boosts Impala Platinum’s Floatation Cell Efficiency

The platinum group metals (PGMs) produced at the Impala platinum mine in Rustenburg, South Africa, are key to making essential industrial, medical and electronic items and contribute to a cleaner, greener world.

Given the tight PGM market conditions, maximising mineral recovery through efficient flotation cells is evermore essential in this critical industry. At Impala Rustenburg, flotation cell efficiency was recently significantly boosted with a home-grown filtration solution that not only delivers superior results, but also the lowest levels of maintenance and lifetime costs.

Implats produces approximately 20% of global primary PGM (platinum group metals) and employs almost 70,000 people across its global operations. This includes the large Impala platinum mine located on the Western Limb of the world-renowned Bushveld Complex near Rustenburg in the North West Province of South Africa. This nine-shaft mining complex with concentrating and smelting plants produces around 800,000 ounces of platinum per year.

Implats recently confirmed tighter-than-expected PGM markets in 2023 and expects all major PGM markets to remain in deficit in 2024. To ensure its operations contribute sustainably and profitably through PGM cycles, Implats has implemented operational efficiency and cost optimisation improvements.

An effective flotation solution is a critical input for ever more efficient and sustainable mineral recovery. Efficient flotation solutions that reduce downtime and maintenance costs and enable higher ore and grade recovery and throughput, lead to major improvements in operational performance.

This was recently demonstrated at the Impala Platinum UG2 Concentrator Plant, where the efficiency of flotation cells was substantially improved by the installation of a Superior Filtration solution that eliminated a number of challenges and boosted efficiency.

Previously operating without a filtration solution, the Concentrator Plant’s spray down nozzles on the top of the flotation cells were continuously becoming blocked, resulting in daily interruptions to allow time to manually check and clean the blocked nozzles. This also resulted in additional costs as several labourers were required to clean the nozzles.

“The plant foremen at the Concentrator Plant wanted to optimise the efficiency of the flotation cells by preventing the spray nozzles from becoming blocked, thereby reducing both downtime and man hours required to check and clean the nozzles,” says Albert Bam of Superior Filtration, a South African company that designs and manufactures industrial filtration solutions used in 36 countries around the world.

“We were introduced to one of the plant foremen at the Impala Concentrator Plant by our long-standing client Robday Mining Supplies, who knew that our solutions have been filtering water on many mines globally for more than 40 years. Because of our advanced technology and long experience in mining, we are well-positioned to provide crucial advice – and filtration solutions that work for decades, requiring minimal management and maintenance.”

A Superior Filtration Kleerflo Automatic Self-Cleaning Filter was installed at the Impala Concentrator Plant in the beginning of 2023. It was selected as the right solution for numerous reasons, including the inherent simplicity that underpins the design of Kleerflo filters. They have no electric motors, no rotating parts, very few moving parts – which leaves less room for error, and no close tolerance elements, and feature high quality, durable, stainless steel wedge wire screens that eliminate the need for manual pre-screens and that do not need to be replaced.

Widely used in mining and other industries for the removal of suspended solids from water to protect water spray systems or equipment, Kleerflo filters are in-line, pressurised, automatic self-cleaning filters which offer continuous flow and a strong, positive backwash action that ensures thorough cleaning of the screens. Kleerflo’s unique design provides robust performance with highly effective filtration and proven reliability that virtually eliminates nozzle blockage, at the lowest lifetime and maintenance costs.

“The plant foreman at the Impala Concentrator Plant is pleased with the performance of the Kleerflo filter and the mine has indicated its intention to add new filters on other flotation lines at the plant. This underpins our claim that Kleerflo filters are the best filters to use for protection of nozzles in flotation cells, based on our experience with Kleerflo filters at many other mining operations globally, including at Mineral Sands Mines and the Namakwa Sands Mine in South Africa and Moatize Coal Mine in Mozambique,” notes Bam. “We remain in regular contact with Impala mine, providing support and spares as required and consulting on other processes at the mine where filtration is required.”

“Our Superior Filtration team invites both design engineers and end users of filtration systems to make contact via telephone or email to benefit from our no obligation diagnostic service and technical input.”

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