Metso Insights Blog Mining and metals blog Metso's hydrometallurgical plant units – Reduce risks and costs through standardization and modularization
Metals refining
Apr 12, 2024

Metso's hydrometallurgical plant units – Reduce risks and costs through standardization and modularization

The Engineering, Procurement, and Construction Management (EPCM) model is common in hydrometallurgical plant investment projects. In this model the individual unit process steps are kept generic to allow for the involvement of several suppliers. However, building the most critical key unit processes from several suppliers’ offerings often leads to a solution that merely meets industry-specific standards rather than one that fulfills customer-specific requirements and has an optimized life cycle cost of critical parts of the plant flowsheet.
OKTOP reactors at Eti Bakir Mazidagi

The mining industry has performed poorly compared with other industries in terms of project overspend. Capital cost overruns have been a consistent feature of mining projects for decades, with average overruns of 20–60% since 1965. Our customers and EPCMs are increasingly seeking alternatives to traditional project execution models to reduce the project-related risks.

At Metso, we have focused on developing predesigned, modular unit process island offerings around our proprietary equipment and key technology areas, as well as developing extensive complementary digital offerings for the most critical hydrometallurgical unit processes.

This plant unit approach is nicely in line with the traditional EPCM model, allowing EPCM companies to have more standardized and proven building blocks to allow faster and more predictable completion of the overall plant design, project execution and plant ramp-up. Our lifecycle service solutions are built into these plant unit offerings to help our customers to optimize production and secure availability of these core unit processes.

This model brings the following benefits:

  • Improved clarity and simplified project management with one supplier responsible for the most critical key hydrometallurgical unit processes
  • Reduced risk through more predictable delivery and fabrication of key unit processes
  • Customer can focus on their core business
  • Reduced overall project duration
  • Lower total installed cost
  • Increased safety and improved quality with more work done at the workshop and less on site
  • Increased predictability in terms of schedule and costs
  • Earlier production by improved net present value (NPV)

Below are some examples of our hydrometallurgical plant unit products that are built around our proven proprietary process equipment and technologies.

Metso VSF® X – Modularity for solvent extraction plants

The Metso VSF X plant is an example of International Mining Technology Hall of Fame recognized revolutionary modularity in hydrometallurgy. The plant provides a novel way to design, manufacture, transport, install, operate and maintain a solvent extraction (SX) plant. The elegance of the modular product lies in the use of productized settler modules, which enables the construction of a settler consisting of independent sections. Our renowned SX expertise is built into these modules, which are fully suitable for intermodal transportation as standard freight containers. The modules are procured, manufactured and transported via a predefined supply chain, enabling more reliable and faster delivery. This supply philosophy provides the flexibility for custom designed SX plants built from standard modules to enable faster, safer and more economical project implementation. The benefits of VSF X have already been proven in several customer projects.

Modularization continues to become more popular with benefits including a reduction in costs and time spent, but most importantly the creation of a safer working environment.

modular VSF X plant
Metso's modular VSF X plant provides fast, safe, and reliable delivery for SX applications such as Cu, Ni, Co, Zn, Li, U, impurity removal, and phosphoric acid purification.

OKTOP® Atmospheric Reactor – Proven performance in hydrometallurgical applications

The recognition that high-quality reactor design is critical for efficient leaching, precipitation and metal recovery processes has led Metso to develop its efficient OKTOP reactor offering for hydrometallurgical applications.

A common practice in hydrometallurgical reactor design is to focus on fulfilling industry-specific standards rather than the specific requirements and fundamentals of the project in question. Reactors are normally considered as simple tanks with agitation functionality, and with supply split between several suppliers. Split-scope delivery rarely allows for the development of a functional unit that provides the hydrometallurgical performance and functionality needed to maximize recovery and availability while also ensuring safe and easy operation and maintenance.

Metso's approach is to supply the reactor train as a complete, highly predefined, but still tailor-made functional unit that is integrated with the process design and automation. The OKTOP reactor plant unit concept utilizes Metso's OKTOP agitators, reactor tanks, heating and cooling baffles, launder systems and proprietary sensor technology such as OKTOP SandSense for agitation control.

OKTOP cyanide leaching plant
OKTOP cyanide leaching plant unit is an example of a complete reactor solution including novel features such as OKTOP FlowBottom, SandSense, and CarbonSense to maximize profitability and availability.

OKTOP® pressure leaching plant unit – Improved safety and performance through complete technology package delivery

Pressure leaching is a key process step in hydrometallurgical metals refining, particularly in the extraction of refractory metals. These processes use high-pressure and high-temperature environment to facilitate chemical reactions. In Metso’s OKTOP® autoclave plant units, safety, efficiency and reliability combine to create a full-functioning process island for the leaching process.

The OKTOP autoclave plant unit is a comprehensive system, encompassing all necessary equipment from autoclave feed to pressure let-down and gas scrubbing. The plant boasts a vast portfolio of Metso’s proprietary equipment, supplemented with carefully chosen partners for critical third-party equipment. Recognizing that pressure leaching is one of the most capital-intensive process areas, Metso’s productized solutions are designed to optimize material usage and expedite delivery time.

Safety is a paramount concern in the OKTOP® autoclave plant unit, and Metso’s proven solutions add an extra layer of protection. The integration of Metso’s digital tools with the OKTOP® autoclave plant unit yields unparalleled benefits, particularly in the areas of training and process optimization.

OKTOP® pressure leaching plant unit
OKTOP® pressure leaching plant unit
OKTOP autoclave plant unit
The OKTOP autoclave plant unit is applicable to a wide range of pressure hydrometallurgy applications.
Metals refining