GTK is investing significantly to renew the GTK Mintec pilot plant

GTK is investing significantly to renew the GTK Mintec pilot plant

The Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) is investing significantly to renew the GTK Mintec pilot plant located in the Outokumpu town, North Karelia. The GTK Mintec pilot plant is one of the most comprehensively equipped mineral processing pilot plants in the world. To strengthen the position as a world leader in mineral processing research, some of the most significant investments are listed below.

  • The process automation system at the pilot plant has been updated to Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Process Expert -system. The pilot plant circuit is planned and built to fit the purposes of each project to ensure a continuous process with constant flow rates. The process automation system is used to control the equipment e.g. feeders, conveyer belts, mills, classifiers, separators, valves for air, water and slurry and chemical dosage pumps, which are used in the process circuit. One major improvement in the new system is the availability of the process data in a cloud which means that the data is, in practice, available anywhere in the world and the process can also be controlled remotely.

The update of the process automation system is an important step in the construction of a virtual mineral processing plant, or Digital Twin, that GTK Mintec has started to build up. The virtual processing plants provides remote dynamic feedback to actual plants. A digital plant will have the capability of monitoring a process in real-time by using advanced machine learning protocols and methods. The target is digital service solutions for the industry, utilizing our technology platform.

  • GTK has also invested in new froth flotation cells for the pilot plant. GTK has received European Regional Development Funding for the acquisition from the Regional Council of North Karelia. The next-generation froth flotation cells feature smart sensors and sensing elements. They enable improved monitoring and process planning in beneficiation research.

The modern cells, together with the high-level instrumentation, respond to modern challenges in the circular economy and mining industry even better. GTK Mintec’s continuously developed research infrastructure enables close cooperation with Finnish technology and measuring equipment manufacturers. The new froth flotation cells will be delivered by Metso Outotec. The delivery consists of some twenty froth flotation units, over 7 m3 cell volume in total, including a flotation column with over 0,2 m3 volume. The flotation cells will be installed during summer in 2021.

A visual image of the flotation cells acquired by GTK.
  • To counter the increasing need for fine grinding in pilot scale GTK has acquired a vertical mill to the GTK Mintec pilot plant in Outokumpu. Fine grinding is becoming more and more mainstream in mineral processing since it is becoming more challenging to achieve ore mineral liberation with conventional grinding. Separation of the valuable ore minerals from the waste can’t be achieved without sufficient liberation achieved with comminution. To increase the capacity of fine grinding possibilities in the pilot plant, GTK Mintec has invested in a fine grinding vertical mill which is suitable for continuous pilot plant campaigns that requires fine grinding. The feed capacity of the HIGmill™ model acquired by GTK is up to 300 kg/h and the mill can grind material down to 6 µm fineness. The mill will be installed at GTK Mintec during the summer in 2021.

Operation procedure of the HIGmill™ is as follows: The feed slurry is fed into the mill via a connection in the bottom into the mill. The tall and narrow design of the mill ensures evenly distributed grinding media which is stirred by vaned rotors. A particle must pass through all stages (rotors) during its passage to the discharge at the top of the machine, thus ensuring uniform particle size distribution in the grinding product.

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These activities have been carried out within the Metnet network. This network consists of several pilot plants in Europe, covering many different aspects of mineral processing, metallurgy and production of metals. Through Metnet the customers have access to a network of knowledge that can work cross-sectorial and innovatively by combining the expertise of all members. You can find more about the METNET network here.

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