A 3-Cell Pneuflot configuration (4 metre diameter capable of 460 m3/hr) doing potash duty for SQM.
Pneumatic flotation technology shows remarkable results in delivering field trials involving platinum group metals (PGMs) and iron ore.

Gregory Niekerk, business development manager at MBE Minerals, says that the company’s Pneuflot technology is nearing the completion of an 18 month test at a South African PGM operation where the pilot plant has already delivered a 5% gain in recovery and yield.

Following a trial in Brazil that was undertaken by a prominent iron ore miner which reported ground breaking gains using the Pneuflot technology, Niekerk explains that a customer undertook an industrial scale trial using a 4 m diameter cell.

“The footprint of MBE Minerals’ 4 m diameter cell is 4.5 m² and can handle throughputs between 450 m³ and 850 m³ of slurry per hour,” says Niekerk.

These trials also confirmed that MBE Minerals’ Pneuflot technology uses more than 35% less electricity than competing technologies. There are also no mechanical moving parts in its cell or expensive auxiliaries such as compressors or blowers, resulting in reduced maintenance and operating costs, while its structural footprint is generally 50 to 60%, smaller than those of agitator cells and column cells of similar capacities.

During the next six months, MBE Minerals assures that pneumatic flotation technology will be subjected to more trials at potential customers’ operations, including another PGM circuit on the Western Limb as well as a gold circuit on the East Rand and a graphite operation in Zimbabwe.

The Pneuflot laboratory unit stationed at Mintek will be equally busy on contractual work in rare earth minerals, potash, phosphates and graphite.

[quote]In addition, energy, food security, copper/PGM/gold/zinc (minerals) both in fresh feed and tailings retreatment are amongst the key mineral focuses for Pneuflot over the next 12 months.

“Pneuflot is easily “plugged and played” into any part of an existing circuit allowing comparative analysis to be undertaken by mines’ research and development (R&D) teams from float feed to final tails,” he says.

He adds that MBE Minerals train their customers’ R&D team and then leave them to study the performance of the technology in their unique operating environments.

He further explains that pneumatic flotation technology uses a slurry pump to feed slurry into an aerator mounted on top of the Pneuflot cells, where it comes into contact with air before being fed into the cell which primarily operates as an a separator vessel.

MBE Minerals’ industrial plants have diameters ranging from 0.8 m to 6 m in diameter with slurry feed rates of between 10 m³/h to 1 400 m³/h. The bigger cells are installed for a cost of less than 25 US cents per m³/h slurry feed. This places the technology in the lowest capital cost quartile.

It is evident that MBE Minerals’ approach to allowing its customers to test Pneuflot in live operating conditions is producing the necessary results as more mines and project developers realise that this unique pneumatic flotation technology is suited to their virgin ores, current tailings arising’s and the retreatment of stockpiled tails.