On November 28, Diane and I attended the Canadian Mineral Processors AGM. It was a valuable opportunity for us to show our support to the CMP for their support of our soon-to-come new Milling and Mineral Separation interpretive display.
For myself though, the highlight was learning a little more of what is happening in the world of mineral processing.
The first new technology introduced to me at the AGM is flash flotation – a technology with a similar development history to froth flotation.
A few years ago I had the privilege of attending a mining workshop which included a look at the history of froth flotation, which led me to read more on the evolution of this technology. What I discovered was it took around 50 years from first discovery to economical application in a production environment. Once established, however, it went through a period of rapid advancement for around 20 years, before plateauing.
According to an article by Rob Coleman of Outotec, flash flotation took around 80 years to go from concept to reality on a large scale. Its impact however, was noticed immediately. One example of the impact of Outotec’s Skimair flash flotation unit on a copper/zinc/gold operation was a 20% reduction in collector consumption in the copper circuit and a 5% increase in gold recovery resulting in a payback of the investment in the technology in three months.
Britannia implemented many cutting-edge technologies in its day, including its own unique flotation process – the Britannia deep cell system.
One thing interesting about working for the Museum is we are always learning more about the industry as well as Britannia’s past. It makes me wonder if Britannia ever experimented with anything similar to flash flotation.
The second technology introduced to me is TIMA mineral analysis. TIMA stands for TESCAN Integrated Mineral Analyzer – TESCAN is a supplier of electron microscopes, TIMA is an electron microscope designed specifically for the mining and minerals processing industry.
In the last years of Britannia, we were using spectography to optimize our flotation circuits. For Britannia, however, the analysis was carried out by hand. Modern technologies such as TIMA are faster, more accurate, and automated, all of which contribute to more effective mineral separation operations.
It was a pleasure to hear how technology has advanced in this critical industry, and how Britannia fits into the storied history of its advances.
Thank you to Scott Martin, and the CMP, for your support, and the opportunity to connect Britannia’s mineral processing history to the industry today.