Outotec Installs First Laser Particle Size Analyzer

Worker checks the status display of an Outotec PSI 500 particle size analyzer recently installed at Rio Tinto Iron
Ore’s Paraburdoo operation in Western Australia. The system—the first of its kind to be installed at an iron ore
operation—uses a pair of two-stage samplers to monitor thickener feed from four multi-cyclone modules..
Outotec recently reported that the first iron ore installation in Australia of its PSI 500 particle size analyzer took place at Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s Paraburdoo operation in the Pilbara region.

The system, which uses laser diffraction technology, provides real time particle size analysis, essential to maximizing throughput and recoveries, said Brian McPherson, Outotec application engineerautomation. “The PSI 500 system, selected by Paraburdoo to reliably and continuously monitor feeds from the cyclones to the thickener, gives infinitely better process control than typical intermittent manual sampling methods.”

According to Outotec, one of the main reasons why PSI 500 technology was selected for Paraburdoo is its highly reliable monitoring. With 80 cyclones per stream, the cyclone overflow reporting directly to the thickener, and tailings pumped 7 km, it was critical to ensure correct cyclone operation. Dependable monitoring is vital for mass recovery and optimized thickener/tailings operation.

Paraburdoo’s two-stream PSI 500 installation uses a pair of two-stage samplers to monitor thickener feed from four modules of cyclones. The installation was designed and commissioned by Outotec with Rio Tinto Iron Ore Plant Projects Coordinator Brady Stump.

“The analyzer is also one of the few in the market which can actually cover particle size measurement in the 1 to 500 μm range. It monitors particle size distribution and therefore cyclone performance. Also, laser diffraction is a well-established, proven technology, delivering greater precision for particle size analysis,” said McPherson. “Particle size monitoring and control increases average throughput and reduces particle size variability in grinding circuit products, leading to easier thickening as there is a more consistent feed.”

Outotec said the PSI 500 does not require calibration and its stand-alone configuration allows it to monitor and control its own sampling system without need of guidance from a Distributed Control System (DCS), so its installation cost is lower due to no configuring and cabling costs. In addition, the unit is simple to use and capable of measuring manual samples.

Outotec also provided additional services to facilitate the brownfields installation at Paraburdoo, which it said was challenging in terms of existing structure and plant layout. Outotec supplied the equipment platform, consulted with site management on the location and provided localized training to optimize system performance.

As featured in Womp 2009 Vol 08 - www.womp-int.com