The Red Dog VIP mill optimization project. Part A: Rectifying the shortage of flotation capacity

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 96, No. 1068, 2003

B. Lacouture and G. Hope

The Red Dog mine has increased mill throughput most years since start-up. Although flotation equipment has been added over the last 10 years, the Red Dog metallurgical performance has been restricted by a lack of adequate flotation capacity. Two reduced tonnage trials conducted in 1997 as well as numerous SAG relines have consistently indicated the potential to significantly increase both zinc concentrate recovery and grade with additional flotation capacity. Later in 1999, a new circuit was designed with increased flotation capacity while simplifying the current circuit, providing for three stages of dilution cleaning, and creating a retreat section. The purpose of the retreat section is to target the more complex particles and allow the chemical environment to be fine tuned for improved iron depression. In total, 21 Outokumpu OK50 (50 m3) mechanical flotation cells and four 3.66 mØ column cells were added to the current flotation circuit. The VIP (value improvement program) mill optimization project is also addressing thickening, water treatment, and power generation issues and has a total budget of US$105 M. Start-up of equipment was phased in to minimize the impact on current operations and the project was completed by the end of 2001.
Mots Clés: Flotation, Modelling, Plant design, Circuit configuration.