Monitoring thickener operation using a conductivity probe

Gomez, C. O. ; Finch, J. A. ; Moores, N. ; Probst, A.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1999
In 1994, McGill University and INCO Ltd. (Sudbury operation) initiated the transfer of technology originally developed to detect levels in equipment ranging from flotation columns to thickeners. A conductivity probe was installed in a concentrate thickener to monitor the mud line and the solids load. The probe consisted of a vertical tube with 32 equally spaced electrode rings connected in pairs to give 31 conductivity cells. Conductivity was measured as a function of depth to produce a conductivity profile. From the conductivity profile, the mud line and the percent solids can be inferred. The probe was installed in October 1994, and it has been successfully detecting profiles since then. This paper includes a description of the incidents that occurred and the experiences gained during this technology-transfer process. Discussed is probe installation and startup; software modifications to accommodate both operating conditions and the needs of the operators; and calibration procedures to adjust to changes in performance as a consequence of long-term use. Also included are preliminary observations of the still-in-progress last stage, i.e., signal interpretation and use to facilitate operation, particularly by providing early reaction to upstream disturbances.
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