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Saturday, 25 February 2017

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Maximizing the Copper Output from an Electrowinning Plant

Maximizing the Copper Output from an Electrowinning Plant
Is your copper electrowinning plant running at capacity?


Just about every industry today is trying to squeeze the most out of their assets in an effort to increase production without any major capital expenditure. When merely achieving budget is no longer enough, leaders push to find areas where improvement can be made with the data they are given. But what if the data given isn’t the right data and doesn’t provide the insight required? With so many potential areas within a mine or plant to be monitored, wouldn’t you want to ensure that you receive the most important information possible at the right time in order to maximize production and minimize cost?

Electrowinning – Daily challenges in the cell house

Roughly 20% of global copper production comes from electrowinning (EW) plants. They produce high quality copper cathode, with a minimum of energy consumption and at a maximum current efficiency. To be able to do this, operators of EW plants need to keep the EW section running at the maximum rate while understanding the effects and interactions between common chemical and physical parameters affecting the production of copper.

Common issues in an EW operation are often due to a lack visibility and understanding, poor monitoring and control of copper concentration, iron concentration, manganese content, cobalt concentration, acid concentration, electrolyte temperature, solids in solution and cell flow to name a few. In addition to these, there are physical plant issues such as anode and cathode maintenance and quality, anode and cathode cell alignment, shorts detection and correction, current density, corrosion, poor stripping strategies, and reliability issues at the crane and stripping machine. Stability, efficient production and optimization can be difficult to manage with so many influencing factors.

A proposed approach to asset optimization of a copper EW operation

There are two methodologies that can be used to maximize production from your electrowinning operation: Production OEE and Critical Process & Equipment Management. Production OEE is a unique, holistic, production based methodology, supported by software that monitors the operating conditions in such a way that it identifies the cause of any loss affecting production. Critical Process & Equipment Management (CPEM) on the other hand, is a methodology that supports your efforts to prevent losses from occurring at all in your cell-house. Critical Process Parameters are monitored and actions are taken when they are outside of defined control limits. CPEM is a very important tool used to help maximize efficiency and copper quality at all times, and to strike the right balance between them.

Software support for optimizing the operation of your critical electrowinning assets

Today there is a software package available that supports both Production OEE, Critical Process &Equipment Management, Continuous Improvement via TARP, Dashboards, and Operational Reporting all in one solution. It is critical to collect and monitor the right data, turn it into information, and automatically disseminate this information to the right people at the right time for them to take the appropriate action.

With Optimum, the asset optimization software by MPPIglobal, the electrowinning process is modelled and measured for valuable data to be captured, classified and actioned. With the correct information in front of the right people, Optimum identifies and manages production improvement activities while also driving operating costs down by controlling all critical inputs and running the asset at its maximum demonstrated rate.

To find out more about Optimum, you can visit the product page here.

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