During the implementation of the automation project, Anaconda applied for and received C$1 million of financing through two government programmes: the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development (DBTCRD).
Dustin Angelo, president and CEO of Anaconda Mining, stated: “The completion of the mill automation project is a big milestone in the growth and development of the Pine Cove mill, a continuously improving asset that is the cornerstone of our infrastructure at the Point Rousse project. By utilising some of the newest technology available such as a cyanide analyser, we expect to benefit by reducing operating costs, increasing productivity and freeing up manpower to focus on more value added activities.
“Our newly constructed control room centralises information at the mill and allows us to troubleshoot issues in real time. We can also leverage this centralised facility as the company expands because the system has the capability to control and monitor operations at other locations remotely. The majority of funding for the project was provided by ACOA and the DBTCRD, with whom Anaconda has maintained long standing relationships. We appreciate our partnership with them and will continue to explore other initiatives together to help propel Anaconda and its projects in the future for the mutual benefit of the company and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
The automation project at the Pine Cove mill included the installation of many individual components such as flow meters, state-of-the-art analysers, PLCs and other standard instrumentation. A new central control room was also constructed to house the control system and operator, from which the entire plant and crusher can be controlled and monitored. Full data trending is available to the operator and management, and the control interface (VTSCADA) can be accessed remotely by technical staff to provide 24/7 troubleshooting assistance. The new control room could also serve as the central operating point for future milling operations at other Anaconda projects outside of the Point Rousse project.
Anaconda set up various flow meters, control valves and level sensors throughout the plant to establish automatic control loops on certain metrics such as tank levels, pump speeds and reagent addition, which will create more stable and consistent operating conditions. By increasing stability, Anaconda expects to achieve greater levels of throughput while maintaining the highest possible recovery. Manual processes such as sampling and monitoring of turbidity, pH and pressure have been significantly reduced because of automation. Consequently, manpower can now be spent on more value added tasks. Furthermore, the control room operator can, through the control system and cameras, better avoid process disruptions, identify issues at earlier stages or prevent them altogether.
To monitor and control the leaching circuit of the Pine Cove mill, Anaconda installed a cyanide analyser, manufactured by the Australian company Orica, which it stated is the first of its kind in the world to be utilised in an operating mill. The analyser handles cyanide addition and monitoring automatically, which is expected to reduce overall cyanide consumption; one of the company’s highest consumable costs.