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GRUMINEX: Expand Processing Capacity, Avoid Downtime

Juan Carlos Bagnod - GRUMINEX
Mechanical Engineering Consultant


By MBN Staff | MBN staff - Tue, 10/20/2020 - 11:32

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Q: In what stages of a mining operation does Gruminex’s expertise add the most value?

A: Our expertise makes the biggest difference from the crushing and grinding stage onwards. Our multidisciplinary engineering skills work in synchrony to offer a comprehensive solution. The first step is to define, depending on the kind of mineral and its properties, whether the processing will be done by lixiviation or grinding and flotation. We then adapt our engineering design for crushing and grinding according to what the process requires.

On new projects, we have the liberty to act proactively and avoid future complications. However, existing plants that are already in operation are more challenging. We are frequently commissioned to do expansions due to greater processing capacity needs. Our team of engineers evaluates whether the existing equipment can be adapted to take on more load or if new equipment needs to be implemented.

Gruminex’s commitment is to offer a comprehensive package of solutions to our clients. Our proposals include solutions for everything needed to put the processing equipment into operation, including engineering development such as foundations, structural, mechanical and piping design and electrical installations.

Q: What are the most frequent challenges that you face when making improvements at an operating plant?

A: When an operating plant needs modifications, the physical space itself can become a limitation. Construction foundations sometimes have to be demolished and rebuilt. For instance, in a recent project there was no space to redirect the processing feed. We had to make major engineering adaptations to reach a solution because one piece of equipment had to be placed under another.

Another major challenge we usually face is that clients are intensely averse to stopping operations while we work on their plants. Downtime equals massive financial losses. Expanding the processing capacities of the plant while the plant is working requires great coordination with both the client and the operations department. Starting with the design stage, we orchestrated a whole strategy with contractors and the client to keep the plant in operation. The key is good coordination. The ideal way to work is having enough mineral to feed the part of the process that is under intervention as soon as the intervention is finished. For example, in a recent project, the crushing plant had to be stopped but we made sure that grinding continued. As a result, the stoppage was not as impactful for the production. This approach encourages miners not to postpone improvement work because they fear downtime. Accommodations and modifications need to be done in a timely manner or you run the risk of a greater loss from unscheduled stops.

Q: How does Gruminex approach the design and installation of conveyor belts?

A: There are a number of factors that have to be taken into consideration. Often, manufacturers only provide the equipment. But Gruminex’s experts advise clients about the right equipment to select for the project. We then carry out the civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. The most important factor to keep in mind is that the design of the conveyor belt is a right fit in relation to the project. Foundations are of the utmost importance. The civil engineering element needs to be performed correctly or the rest of the installation will not comply with the required standards. To select the right contractors and manufacturers, we do a thorough consultation in conjunction with the client. This includes inspecting the blueprints for the equipment that will be installed.

Q: What engineering design solutions can Gruminex implement?

A: Once the metallurgists have determined the correct process for the ore, we can design the infrastructure for crushing and handling of the material for storage on a pile.

If the ore is for leaching, we design a transportation system to transport the ore to the areas of the leach pad. Later, ADR plants can be designed in gold mines to recover the product. In the case of copper, we use electrolytic deposit plants.

If the ore is for recovery in a flotation system, the appropriate design is for wet crushing processes, including pump sludge, hydrocyclones, flotation cells or dynamic tank leaching, thickener tanks, tails pumping to the dam, etcetera. Each mineral has different properties, and that helps us define the required equipment as the case may be. Our experience on those processes gives us the opportunity to offer multidisciplinary engineering services to our clients and help solve the needs of each project.

Grupo Minero Mexicano (GRUMINEX) is a strategic services company dedicated to the provision of comprehensive engineering and construction management services (ECM) for the mining industry. It is focused on generating efficient and effective solutions to meet multidisciplinary needs.

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