“This is the highest recovery I have seen at BVC Concentrator 1 since my first site visit back in 1988,” said Jose Romero, Head of Sales for Outotec’s office in North Mexico. “This is a huge benefit for Grupo Mexico, and they have been very happy with Outotec’s technical approach.”
Buenavista del Cobre is a copper-molybdenum mine located in the state of Sonora, Mexico. The mine has two concentrators: Concentrator 1 is a 90 ktpd plant which has been in operation since 1986 while Concentrator 2 is a 100 ktpd brand new plant design that started-up in 2014. The flotation improvement reported in this work with the latest TankCell e630 technology was carried out at Concentrator 1.
Concentrator 1 has been in operation for more than three decades and was originally designed for 72 ktpd. The ore is mined from an open pit, crushed, and fed to ten ball mills. The concentrator is divided into two parallel comminution-flotation sections, so that five ball mills feed each flotation section. Both sections consist of three bulk copper and molybdenum rougher flotation lines, and the rougher concentrate is transferred to a regrinding stage.
In 2015, personnel from Buenavista del Cobre and Outotec conducted a process assessment of the rougher flotation stage. The process assessment included detailed mineralogical characterization of an ore sample, a sampling campaign bank-by-bank and flotation pilot (TC5) tests and lab flotation tests with fresh process samples. Basis of the generated kinetic test data rougher flotation model was implemented using Outotec HSC Chemistry software. The simulation model indicated that increase of flotation volume will result in increase of Cu recovery. Various scenarios were simulated to define the best manner to implement the 630 m3 flotation cells to the existing flotation sections. The recommendation was to install two TankCell e630 flotation units as the first cells of the existing bulk rougher stage for parallel Sections 1 and 2, as shown in the schematic flowsheet presented in Figure 2.
The existing Section 1 bulk rougher lines consist of three parallel lines of 18 cells per line with a total flotation capacity of approx. 1529 m3. Section 2 bulk rougher stage also consists of three parallel lines, two of the lines equivalent to the flotation lines in Section 1 and one line consists of 13 cells with a net volume of 38 m3 resulting in a total flotation capacity for the full section of approx. 1513 m3.