Lime Powder Handling and Dosing in IBCs

The Goro Nickel plant is located on the South Pacific island of New Caledonia and is one of the largest mining projects anywhere in the world. The expected annual capacity of the Goro Nickel project is 60,000t of nickel and 4,300 to 5,000t of cobalt, which represents around 20% of global production.

At the site Outotec GmbH has commissioned one of the largest Sulphuric acid plant’s in the world. The acid plant, which also includes a Sulphur melting and filtration unit, is an integral part of the construction of a fully-integrated commercial nickel-cobalt mining and production facility at Goro in the French Overseas Territory of New Caledonia.

The plants process is based on Sulphur, which is fed in liquid form to a Sulphur burner. The SO2 generated in the furnace is being converted to SO3 prior to being transformed into Sulphuric acid. The Sulphur is shipped in solid form and will be molten on site.

A crucial step in the treatment of solid Sulphur prior to melting is the addition of lime. Due to biological and chemical reaction during the transport, part of the Sulphur is transformed into Sulphuric acid which requires neutralisation in order to avoid corrosion in the melting and filtration units.

Goro site operates a limestone plant, lime was readily available yet the transport and storage of lime to the Sulphur melting area and the dosing of lime due to its cohesive nature. This was until Matcon were contacted and the Matcon IBC System was deemed the best solution. The bulk density of the lime varied between 800 Kg/cu.m and 1200 Kg/cu.m.

The Matcon IBC system incorporates the IBC and Discharge Station, both utilise cone valve technology. The Discharge Station incorporates a powerful lifting “probe” which engages and locks into the cone valve in the IBC. On demand the probe/cone assembly raises rapidly and powerfully to discharge the lime from the IBC into the process through the annular gap created around its IBC perimeter. This action of cone valve promotes mass flow and prevents product Bridging or Rat-Holing. The height of discharge is configured to suit the material properties of the lime.

There are two off Lime dosing Discharge Stations on site, they are both located outside. They both have on load cells mounts for weighing which allows for Loss-In-Weight batching. The operator selects the required batch weight and the PLC weigh controller controls the dosing of the lime into the process to the required weight and discharge rate. The initial discharge rate required was 50Kg/Hr with an accuracy of +/-5%.

There were 4 off cone valve 1500L stainless steel IBCs supplied to Goro, they are manouvered around the plant with a standard forklift truck and they are moved into position above the acid process using an overhead hoist.

Matcon have worked in conjunction with Outotec and Goro to ensure the successful commissioning and installation of the IBC system on site.

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