Modularized revolution for efficient solvent extraction

15th of 4, 2014
Numerous studies and analyses have recently shown that the mining industry is facing serious challenges, including complex ores and declining grades together with increasing capital costs, exceeded project sche-dules and environmental regulations.
With regard to solvent extraction, Outotec is helping to address these issues with the introduction of an inno-vative modular plant design, the Outotec VSF®X Plant. The standardized and modularized Outotec VSF®X Plant provides a novel way to design, manufacture, transport, install, operate and maintain a solvent extraction plant. The Outotec VSF®X Plant is designed to handle flows from 25m³/h up to 10 000m³/h and metal content from 1g/l up to 50g/l.

Solvent extraction (SX) is a key process step in various metals extraction processes and has been used for solution concentration and purification since 1950s. Out-otec VSF®X mixer-settler technology is suitable for all metals for which an extraction reagent is available, such as copper, uranium, cobalt, nickel, zinc and REEs, to mention just a few.

The elegance of the modular product lies in the use of prefabricated VSF®X settler modules enabling the con-struction of settler consisting of independent sections. Outotec’s renowned SX expertise is automatically in-cluded in these modules, which are fully suitable for intermodal transportation as standard freight contain-ers. The modules are procured, manufactured and transported via a predefined supply chain enabling more reliable delivery. This supply philosophy allows the flexibility for SX-plants to be custom designed using standard modules and while also enabling faster and more economical project implementations.

Figure 1:  40’ freight container sized settler module

In addition to this, modular solution enables predefined costs and state-of-the-art documentation and implementation in the engineering phase as well as fast procurement, installation and plant commissioning - all this in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. The modular solution allows flexible capacity since more capacity can be built while the plant is running by increasing additional lines of sections. Due to the elevated construction, soil contamination of each mixer-settler is totally avoided and possible leaks are easy to detect and repair. Combined with the optimized usage and selection of material, this enhances the sustainability of the delivered solution.  Furthermore, the settlers have extra residual value, since they are easy to disassemble and transport to a new site.

The VSF®X equipment is covered making the SX process very stable against organic phase oxidation and en-hancing work safety by minimizing organic evaporation. Outotec’s advanced mixer-settler design ensures low entrainments, high availability and lower operating costs. Outotec’s optimized SX process also enables the use of a higher settling rate (up to 10m3/m2/h) resulting in noteworthy reductions in equipment size and the plant footprint as well as organic inventory. In the pre-vious Assarel project in Bulgaria Outotec achieved 30% reduction in organic inventory. Outotec provides ex-tensive performance guarantees for its SX technology.

Fire safety is also maximized due to the low oxygen presence and limited combustion space. There are no carbon steel parts inside of the equipment reducing the fire risk during maintenance. 

A major advantage of the modular SX-plant product lies in the installation phase. Installation of the modules is designed to be simple and timesaving and the con-struction is elevated to minimize excavation work. The modules can be installed by a using mobile or overhead crane. The reduced number of installation personnel and the standardized working procedures allow for easier supervision on-site and an improved work safety environment. In addition, operation and maintenance is improved due to preventive maintenance that can be performed without a complete plant shutdown by by-passing one settler or single settler section.

Outotec has several references around the world and is a distinguished solution provider in SX-technology. The world’s first modular SX-plant using Outotec’s VSF®X technology is currently being delivered to a customer in Turkey

The Outotec VSF®X Plant is a true modular revolution in the mining industry offering numerous benefits:

*    20% shorter lead time
*    Decades of experience in solvent  extraction
*    Predefined concept and modular  design
*    Lower investment, installation and operating costs
*    Increased availability
*    Proven environmentally sound  technology
*    Enhanced safety
*    Life cycle services available

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