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Process Engineering

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Paterson & Cooke has process engineering expertise covering a wide range of mineral processing technologies including comminution, classification, beneficiation and solid/liquid separation. This, coupled with our in-depth knowledge of rheology, clay chemistry and slurry flow behaviour, provides our clients with unique process skills and experience.

Our process design and engineering capability is supported by a number of in-house laboratories where we offer a range of services including material, slurry and rheological characterisation, clay behaviour mapping, bench and pilot scale thickening and filtration, bench scale flotation, pilot scale hydro-cyclone processing and filtered tailings conveyability investigations. Our laboratory capability is complemented with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and scaled model validation capabilities.

Paterson & Cooke’s Field Services provides a valuable role in extending our process engineering capability to clients’ operations where we apply our specialist technical capabilities to address our clients’ process challenges through trouble shooting, debottlenecking, process optimization, pilot and field test work, and equipment upgrades and retrofits (such as thickener feed wells and control systems).

Many projects require novel process solutions. Our resources allow us to conduct fundamental and practical research and develop new process flow sheet options and novel process equipment and solutions specific to our clients’ needs.


Namdeb Floating Treatment Plant Elutriator, Namibia

Development, test work and design of a novel elutriator to classify dredged material to maximize the processing capacity of the floating diamond treatment plant.

De Beers Marine Peace in Africa, South Africa

Development, test work and detailed engineering of novel high capacity dewatering bins for the Peace in Africa offshore mining vessel. The bins include an integrated fluidising jet pump at the discharge that is used to control the solids transfer rate. The dewatering bins receive head feed from a custom designed four-way splitter that was developed, tested and designed at our slurry test facilities. The compact splitter configuration and casting is designed to split the incoming flow into three or four equal streams while maximising wear life.

Oil Sands Tailings In-line Flocculation

Investigatory test work into the suitability of sand stacking chemistry for tailings deposition with accelerated de-watering characteristics, ranging from chemistry selection working with a chemical company, initial free water release as a function of shear to final consolidation behaviour characterization through suction induced consolidation tests working with the University of Colorado.

Clarification/Thickening and Filtration of Calcine Baghouse Dust

Test work involved finding optimum coagulant and flocculant balance, optimum flocculant mix energy levels, definitive thickening and filtration sizing parameters at controlled pH and elevated temperature (40⁰C).

Leach Residue

Rheological characterization of a high temperature (90⁰C) and low pH (less than 1.5) leach residue material.

Umm Wu’al Phosphate Project, Saudi Arabia

Investigation into the conveyability of filtered tailings in conjunction with the transportable moisture limit.

Norilsk JV Nkomati Nickel Mine, South Africa

Control of the mine tailings thickener to deliver higher underflow densities to increase plant throughput by the installation of an in-house developed SteadyBedTM thickener control system.

Keywords: process engineering, mineral processing, rheology, slurry flow behaviour.