Chilean Copper Producer Need for Improved Raw Material Flow Measurement

Emerson’s Michael Pearson, part of the metals and mining industry team from a Rosemount measurement perspective, shares a story of a Chilean copper producer. This producer needed a way to improve monitoring the flow of raw material inputs in their production process.

With copper prices fluctuating regularly, many downstream metal processing facilities are faced with a growing number of challenges. Pressure to increase throughput and reduce costs is growing, and many plants lack the measurement infrastructure needed to effectively achieve these demands.

In many cases, measurement points were never engineered into the original plant. In other cases, measurements have been added, but without real-time monitoring or any effective way to get the measurements back to the control room. These non-existent and “stranded” measurements can often cost companies thousands of dollars in non-optimized processes and wasted resources.

Advances in wireless technology have enabled many operations to gain the additional insight needed to track their resources better. The best part is that use of wireless drastically cuts. In a previous post, I mentioned the story of Barrick Zaldivar, who added wireless flow measurements to their leaching pads to improve operational performance and business results. Now, I’d like to tell you about another producer who is incorporating wireless flow technology.

This Chilean copper producer operates a facility, which produces over 300,000 tons of cathode copper and 200,000 tons of precious metals, in addition to copper concentrate and acid. In an effort to reduce raw inputs to their processes they desired to monitor flow of a variety of resources, namely, diesel, air, oxygen, nitrogen, natural gas, water and purified water.

The company had many challenges in these flow measurements. Either the measurement points did not exist or they had power in place but no way to integrate the measurement data into their control system. To overcome these issues, the company worked with the Emerson team on ways to incorporate wireless measurement devices. The copper producer’s project team worked with the Emerson wireless application team to incorporate these IEC 62591 WirelessHART devices:

By incorporating these additional measurements, the copper producer now has a real-time view into the use of the raw material inputs. This view provides their engineers an opportunity to optimize their use by reducing their consumption. This helps to increase the efficiency of the overall production process.

Now that wireless technology has proven itself effective and positively impacting efficiency, I think we will see more and more mining companies looking to this technology to help optimize operations and solve real problems.

Posted Friday, May 18th, 2012 under Metals, Mining, Minerals, Wireless.

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