BOOSTING MINE CHUTE DESIGN
About the Customer
Wood is a leading global engineering and consulting company that provides a wide range of services to clients in various industries, including the mining sector. One of Wood's clients is IAMGOLD, a mining company that specializes in gold exploration and production.
Wood is responsible for assessing material handling transfer chutes for crushed ore. The large number of transfer chutes must be optimized to enable the transfer of bulk material from one conveyor belt to another, and to adequately direct the flow of material. Small chute design changes have significant impact on down stream processing.
Some of the most common issues with material transfer designs include material plugging, separation and segregation, and abrasion wear. In an effort to reduce operating maintenance costs, Wood used Altair EDEM, a discrete element modeling (DEM) solution, to understand the flow of material and analyze forces acting on different parts of the transfer chute.
Altair collaborated with Wood to ensure the correct parameters were used when simulating cohesionless, free-flowing bulk materials. The transfer chute presented directs the flow of material from the high-pressure grinding roller (HPGR) to a conveyor belt to be screened. The HPGR reduces the particle size by compressing the material between two counter rotating rollers, exceeding the compressive strength of the ore, causing it to fracture. This simulation analyzed specifically the flow of material within the transfer chute. To reduce the complexity of the contact model, the particle size distribution at the outlet of the HPGR was assumed to be the inlet feeding the rollers.
The initial visualization of the DEM results showed an opportunity to reduce the platework within the transfer chute since the majority of the material flowed directly underneath the opening of the rollers. As a result, angled plates were implemented. Furthermore, centering plates were added at the bottom of the transfer chute, improving the material distribution on the belt, reducing the velocity of the material and ensuring that the belt was not side loaded.
Following its use of EDEM, Wood reduced the weight of this transfer chute by approximately 10%, adding $20,000 in NPV to the project. The DEM result showed a potentially costly operating expenditure since the material discharge at the bottom of the transfer chute was not impacting the center of the conveyor belt, resulting in
poor loading conditions (refer to Figure 2). Not only did the visualization of the bulk material flow reduce the material needed to fabricate this transfer chute, it shed light on possible bottleneck and maintenance issues during operation by improving the loading conditions on the conveyor belt.
Fig 1: Velocity contours before and after Altair EDEM analysis
“Altair EDEM™ gave us a better understanding of the flow of the material, and more importantly operating issues that could be designed out before the build. Since then, the Côté project has integrated the use of this technology in many areas. Altair EDEM further de-risks the project by engineering and puts our best foot forward for success in being part of the transformation of IAMGOLD."
JianFeng Wang, IAMGOLD