Dewatering of Bentonitic Rich Coal Tailings Using Belt Press Filter

OÆBrien D R,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1989
Up until June 1988, Mount Thorley Coal Handling and Preparation Plant disposed of tailings by two methods. Approximately half of the plant tailings was mechanically dewatered by solid bowl centrifuges mixed with plant reject and was subsequently disposed in mine overburden spoils; the remainder was pumped to tailings ponds. Both future mine planning and environmental constraints could not allow for the long term construction of more tailings ponds so, following evaluation of available dewatering technology, belt press filters were selected for the treatment of tailings in excess of the capacity of the existing solid bowl centrifuges. Commission of the four 2.5 metre wide belt press filters soon showed that marked differences in performance were experienced when treating different coal seams. Further analysis showed that the coal tailings from different seams were quite different in terms of clay mineralogy, and these differences could be correlated with varying degrees of filter performance. Poor filter performance was experienced with coal tailings rich in sodium montmorillinite clays. A number of variables were investigated including in-line mechanical mixing of flocculant and feed slurry, cation exchange reagents such as gypsum, and upstream addition of cationic flocculant. In order to achieve satisfactory performance on the worst tailings, a combination of all of the above was required. In this paper, the reasons for selection of belt press filters and the program of investigations and testwork required to arrive at satisfactory belt press filter performance for the treatment of troublesome bentonitic rich tailings are discussed.
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