Solving flotation section blockages

Louise Smyth

There are three richly veined platinum ‘limbs’ that stretch over four of the nine provinces of South Africa. Due to the excellent platinum reefs in all three of these limbs there is a heavy concentration of mining houses in the area and Afri-Tech Engineering's (ATE) client, who is situated within the ‘Eastern limb’, is one of them. They approached ATE to see if they could come up with a solution to assist them with a common problem experienced by many of the area’s mining houses.

Essentially the problem was with sticky reef not flowing through the floatation section of the plant. As a result, the flotation cells would overflow and platinum would literally be spilled out onto the floor. Our client suggested that the existing Afri-Tech Power Nozzle available at the time might be exactly what they were looking for to solve the flotation section blockages. The problem however, was that platinum bubbles are so sticky that they stop the process flow. What was needed was to burst the bubbles with a light spray of water, being careful to not add too much water in the process. So, unfortunately the existing nozzle, as with most nozzles that had previously been available, sprayed too much water and couldn’t be flushed.

With a slight adjustment to the Afri-Tech Power Nozzle design, ATE was able to supply their client with a unit that perfectly suited their needs. With an adjustable nozzle orifice they were able to adjust the spray finely enough to solve the client’s problem. The added advantage of using the Power Nozzle in this environment is that it can be installed in a relatively inaccessible area. Regular maintenance can be performed remotely, either from a manual control panel, or the plant control room. When the Power Nozzle becomes blocked, due to debris in the water, it can be flushed simply at the press of a button! This unique design is responsible for massive time and money savings due to the fact that no stoppages are needed in order to unblock the Power Nozzle. Another advantage is that, with the large adjustment range available, the Power Nozzle can be used in high or low volume applications.

Afri-Tech Engineering’s success on the Eastern Platinum Limb of South Africa has had a hugely positive impact. So impressed are their clients, that initial trials are being carried out on 30 floatation cells which, if successful, could lead to the implementation of Afri-Tech Power Nozzle installations as a group standard on all plants.