Metso Insights Blog Mining and metals blog Outotec hydrometallurgical plant units – Reduce risk and costs through standardization and modularization
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Jun 16, 2020

Outotec hydrometallurgical plant units – Reduce risk 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 (1). Our customers and also EPCMs are increasingly seeking alternatives to traditional project execution models to reduce the project-related risks.

At Metso Outotec 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 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 customer 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.

Outotec VSF® X – Modularity for solvent extraction plants

The Outotec VSF X plant is an example of International Mining Technology Hall of Fame recognized (2) 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 prefabricated 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.  To find out more watch our VSF X plant animation and VSF X modular delivery video.

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
Figure 1. Outotec’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.

Outotec® 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 Outotec to develop its efficient Outotec OKTOP reactor offering for hydrometallurgical applications.

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.

Outotec’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 Outotec OKTOP reactor plant unit concept utilizes Outotec OKTOP agitators, reactor tanks, heating and cooling baffles, launder systems, and proprietary sensor technology such as Outotec OKTOP SandSense for agitation control. Find out more by watching our OKTOP® reactor plant unit animation.

Outotec OKTOP cyanide leaching plant
Figure 2. The Outotec OKTOP cyanide leaching plant unit is an example of a complete reactor solution including novel features such as Outotec OKTOP FlowBottom, SandSense, and CarbonSense to maximize profitability and availability.

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

A similar approach can be applied to any pressure hydrometallurgical process by providing the autoclave plant unit as a complete package using Outotec OKTOP autoclave components. Our lifecycle solutions for autoclaves include testing, design, product development, manufacturing, installation, training, ramp-up, optimization, maintenance, and spare part services.

Outotec OKTOP autoclave plant unit
Figure 3. The Outotec OKTOP autoclave plant unit is applicable to a wide range of pressure hydrometallurgy applications.
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