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Dec 15, 2020

Enhance your plant with hydrometallurgical digitalization

By utilizing Metso Outotec digital solutions, customers can increase their efficiency, profitability and safety whilst lowering their environmental footprint at the same time.
hydrometallurgy digital solutions

Metso Outotec has had a long history with digital development, with innovative products such as analyzers and control systems dating back to the 1960’s. Since then, further development has been completed. Today, Metso Outotec’s digital portfolio is vastly wide and includes a whole end-to-end offering. There is now the capability to provide any applications based mainly on our own platform development.

Metso Outotec’s core strength is in combining process know-how, proprietary equipment and plant unit products with digital connected features and local & global services. Our digital offerings for hydrometallurgical solutions cover hardware and software products. With the continuous push to increase production whilst remaining environmentally cautious, Metso Outotec’s hydrometallurgical digitalization allows operations to increase profitability, sustainability and safety – three of the most important factors in the industry today.

 

CHALLENGES

  • Declining ores
  • Environmental regulations
  • Complex processes
  • Maintain safety
  • Operation cost
  • Visibility of hidden phenomena
  • Resource efficiency

Unlock the Potential of Your Operating Plant

Through the use of intelligent instruments and analyzers, customers can utilise the generated data to further enhance their operation. They play a key role in enabling the use of advanced process controls on top of the equipment. At Metso Outotec, there are a number of intelligent instruments developed by hydrometallurgy, including SandSense, CloudSense and DispersionSense.

SandSense and CloudSense allow us to see inside of the reactor. By utilizing these measurements, this enables even 60% savings in energy consumption and a significant decrease in wear. This measurement technology is used for continuous surveillance and control of the degree of solids suspension inside of a reactor. The measurement is made by using probes that are integrated into the reactor. The cloud height of the slurry is measured using CloudSense, and the thickness of the settled layer of solids at the bottom of the tank with a SandSense probe. The mixing power can be controlled based on these measurements. With continuous suspension level measurements, the mixing power intensity inside the reactor can then be optimized. Thus, for example in CIL reactors harmful attrition of activated carbon can be minimized without the risk of excess sanding. By identifying sanding issues early, the problem can be resolved before it escalates.

sandsense oktop
SandSense in operation controlling sand bed level

DispersionSense is used for monitoring stability in solvent extraction, and can reveal abnormal behaviour before problems occur. Continuous measurements significantly increase safety as operator involvement in the hazardous areas can be minimized and there is no need to perform any manual sampling. By providing continuous measurement as opposed to sporadic manual measurement, the plant will inevitably perform better as well.

dispersionsense
DispersionSense shoving two interphases at a SX settler

These products are exclusively available at Metso Outotec only. With a number of satisfied customers already, they have helped various plants achieve their goals on a global scale. Other intelligent instruments developed by Metso Outotec are CarbonSense, CathodSense, CellSense, Courier Analyzers, and more, and are widely used throughout the hydromet processes.

 

SOLUTION

  • Advanced process control
  • Process optimizing tools
  • Digital twins
  • Asset analytics
  • Training tools
  • Intelligent instrumentation

The advantages of the digital world

In order to maximize the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of metallurgical plants, the design team has to consider a variety of criteria. Without the digital tools that can make metallurgical calculations simpler and faster, it is almost impossible to complete tasks in a timely manner. Metso Outotec’s hydrometallurgy digital systems can help operators to understand, control and master the behaviour throughout the process. With tools such as TIMS, VeX, APC & Analyzers, optimizing your plant has never been easier.

”Customers have the potential to save money with small investment,” says Mauri Kostiainen – Specialist, HM Digitalization & Process Modelling. ”With the return on investment time being as low as it is, they are able to improve production and safety of their plant while at the same time, achieving a significant financial benefit.”

TIMS (Tankhouse Information Management System) gathers all scattered information from different sources and creates information for all levels of an organization, from an operator to a CEO. With TIMS, there are numerous pre-defined formulas and calculations for several KPIs, which are needed when optimizing the production of a plant. The latest feature in this system includes a Harvesting Scheduler, which can control the whole Tankhouse production. TIMS has been available for over ten years, and has a solid reference base to support its validity.

TIMS hydrometallurgy
TIMS Harvesting module

In today’s world, it has never been more important to implement virtual offerings than right now. Luckily, Metso Outotec has the right solution - VeX (Virtual Training Simulator & Training Environment). Utilizing more advanced technologies to meet the requirements for sustainable production often requires highly skilled operators, which results in a growing interest towards realistic training systems. Virtual experience training simulators for key hydrometallurgical process areas like SX/EW, Pressure Oxidation (POX), Cyanide Leaching (CIL) and/or any tailored unit help to support operator training. Metso Outotec’s realistic simulator training enables smooth and safe plant unit ramp-up and operation. Furthermore, the training simulator can easily be expanded to cover a whole plant, thus giving a broader and even more realistic environment for operators to train in.

CIL VeX screen and open workbook
CIL VeX screen and open workbook

The fastest way to increase production at any plant is utilising the modern control approach by replacing conventional controls. APC (Advanced Process Control) allows users to stabilize and optimize everything, from single-unit processes to plant-wide production. Building on Metso Outotec’s extensive experience with advanced control solutions, APC has a variety of benefits to the customer. These include reducing cost, maintenance need and risk of human error whilst increasing recovery, uptime, performance and safety. Using APC enables more efficient utilization of the process, and can connect to all existing plant control systems. While a good human operator can reach production levels close to optimal for a short period of time, a good system will keep production at an optimal level 24/7.

APC hydrometallurgy
APC application screen at Zinc plant

Dynamic process advisory type of simulators are based on Outotec® HSC Sim and ACT (Advanced Control Technology) platforms. These simulator-based systems use process optimization and predictions to calculate the fastest way to the most feasible operation conditions for different operation scenarios. The Digital Twin Type approach is used by directly modelling the customer’s process in detail, based on actual equipment and then validated with real plant data for optimal accuracy. Metso Outotec optimizers then provide customers with the opportunity to run their process at these optimized conditions. For example, optimization can be done to minimize operating cost while maintaining desired production levels, taking into account multiple different variables that can affect the process. These products make it possible for the customer to visualize their future production and allows them to identify any deviation to their goals in advance.

CIL Optimizer defining most efficient carbon pumping scenario
CIL Optimizer defining most efficient carbon pumping scenario

Asset Analytics provide the best overall equipment efficiency through digitally enhanced maintenance and skilled technical support. By delivering critical equipment condition and operating data for your assets, the analytics demonstrate a proactive way to identify problems before they occur, such as costly equipment failure, unplanned downtime and productivity losses. Metso Outotec Asset Analytics include a comprehensive equipment health and asset monitoring capability with a wide range of diagnostic and analytic reporting tools, functional across various assets. The connected services are designed to help customers improve their operations and maintenance through the online and remote support. This way, we can provide the customer with the best possible service to keep their process up and running.

 

BENEFITS

  • Increase in production
  • Better resource utilization
  • Faster start up
  • Faster interruption recovery
  • Smaller environmental footprint
  • Increased safety

Building a sustainable future

With these intelligent instruments and software products, customers can get more out of their process with less, thus enabling a more profitable and efficient production. Along with increased safety, another bonus is the added sustainability element that these systems allow for.

“With more accurate control and measurement, we don’t waste raw material,” says Jari Peltola – Technology Manager, Hydrometallurgical Digitalization. “Reagent addition according to actual measured needs eliminate incorrect dosing, enabling a more sustainable operation.” 

Through choices made together with customers, Metso Outotec can influence the outcomes and take the industry towards a responsible use of the world’s natural resources. By utilising these upgrades, operation plants can increase their profitability and performance whilst lowering their environmental impact. That’s why, together, we are the partner for positive change.

 

This article is part of our Hydrometallurgy Newsletter Issue 1/2020. Visit the issue front page for all articles and greetings from Mikko Rantaharju, Vice President of Hydrometallurgy business line.

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