Engineering works in the mining and minerals industry typically involve large capital expense and high power usage. Synergetics’ expertise in this field is well suited to undertaking process investigations, troubleshooting issues, improving operational efficiency and managing environmental and occupational health risks. By using advanced computer modelling techniques, the impacts of changes, both large and small, on operations and processes can be investigated and verified in simulation, without the expense and risk of implementing untested alterations to operating sites.
Figure 1: Mining and mineral extraction processes can release large quantities of dust, including PM10, PM5 and PM2.5. Synergetics have experience assessing the environmental impacts of these particulate emissions, as well designing emissions control measures.
Some examples of the projects that Synergetics have worked on in this field include:
- modelling airborne particulate/dust dispersion and deposition from emission sources such as pit blasting and rock crushing, and assessing air quality impacts at sensitive receptors, including inside buildings;
- designing electrowinning and electrorefining processes, including multiphase fluid dynamics and copper mass transfer, to maximise efficiency;
- investigating and optimising mineral and ore processing systems, including smelting, lancing, sluicing and rock crushing;
- assessing the environmental and occupational health and safety impacts of proposed and existing mining operations to assist with feasibility studies and to demonstrate regulatory compliance;
- developing plans for the effective management of toxic waste materials, such as slurries and tailings;
- developing closure plans for underground and open-cast/open-pit mines, in order to achieve reclamation/remediation goals and to minimise geological impacts;
- investigating and optimising slag flows, ventilation and ducted flows, heap leaching, porous flows, reaction dynamics, heat transfer and fume capture processes;
- optimising ducting systems to reduce buildup and deposition;
- optimising and quantify performance of stockpile emission controls;
- modelling dust emissions during shiploading activities;
- modelling dust control measures to both predict performance and optimise the extent of the measures; and
- development of equipment dust controls, to minimise the build-up of dust and protect maintenance staff from exposure to particulates.
Figure 2: Synergetics used computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to optimise a thermal lancing process. The growing bubble of hot gas (blue) builds up at the thermal lance tip, and then rises up in an energetic, unstable manner.