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Geevor

Tin Mine Museum

2009

Classifying
Classification is separating minerals on the basis of the velocity with which the grains fall through a fluid medium (usually water). This velocity is dependent not only on the density of the particle but also its size and shape. When ores were buddled it was soon realised that if the ore particles were all of similar size the efficiency of the buddling process was improved. Later with the introduction of shaking tables classifying the feed was essential for efficient operation and good tin recoveries. Sieving large quantities of ore was slow and impracticable so classifiers were devised that sorted the ore rather than sieving. A simple classifier was the dumb pit here ore pulp was run into the centre of a circular pit where the particles deposited according to size, the coarsest first. The pit was drained and the settled material dug out according to size for buddling. An improvement on the dumb pit was to pass the ore pulp into a tank or box, the lighter material is held in suspension by the horizontal current long enough to flow across and out of the box whilst the heavier material settles. This type of classifier was known as a box classifier or Spitzkasten and was developed by Rittinger. The classifier usually took the form of an expanded, compartmented, trough or inverted pyramidal boxes fitted together in row with each box being larger and deeper than the preceding one. As the pulp flowed across the compartments/boxes the heaviest material settled to be discharged via the apex of each compartment whilst the finest particles overflowed from the last box. A similar device was the settling cone or sand cone where internal baffles directed the inflowing pulp so that the finer material is held in suspension to overflow, whilst the heavier material discharges in the underflow. Spitzkasten, sand and settling cones are best described as horizontal current classifiers also mechanised classifiers such as rake and spiral classifiers fall into this category. Rake classifiers comprise an inclined trough into which the ore pulp flows to pool at the lower end. Here the heavier particles settle to the bottom of the trough whilst the lighter material overflows a weir. Rakes actuated by an eccentric motion dip into the settled material and move it up the sloping bottom of the trough in a series of short pulses to discharge at the upper end. This raking action has the effect of keeping finer particles in suspension in the settling pool, and also turning over the settled material as it is raked up, thus releasing entrained slimes and water, increasing the efficiency of the separation. Spiral classifiers use a continually revolving spiral to move the sands up the sloping trough and can operate at steeper angles than rakes. Both spiral and rake classifiers have wide spread use in grinding circuits and ore washing plants. Capt John Wilken at Wendron first used a different type of classifier in 1855. The Cornish classifier comprised an inverted conical wooden box into which the ore pulp was fed. A jet of water was delivered from an internal compartment close to the

Geevor
Tin Mine Museum

2009

apex. The upward current of water carried lighter particles to the top of the cone where they overflowed. The heavier particles settled, below the water jet, in the apex of the cone, where they were discharged via a spigot. By controlling the water pressure and pulp feed rates, different sizes products could be produced. By linking classifiers in a cascade an ore pulp could be split into a whole series of products ranging from coarse sands though fine sands to slimes to be buddled separately. This type of classifier is known as a hydraulic classifier. Hydraulic or vertical current classifiers use an additional flow of water directed to oppose the flow of settling particles. They usually take the form of a series of sorting columns through which a vertical current of water is rising and particles are settling. The Stokes Hydrosizer is typical of this type of classifier and comprises an expanding trough compartmented to form a series of teeter chambers. As the pulp flows to the first chamber it encounters an upward current of water issuing from the perforated floor or teeter plate of the chamber, this lifts the finer particles upward so that they are carried to the next chamber, whilst the heaviest and coarsest particles settle to form a teeter bed of particles, balanced by the rising current of water. An opening in the teeter plate allows the accumulating material to flow out via a spigot. An automatic valve assembly that is actuated by monitoring the pressure of the teeter bed controls the rate of discharge. Thus the concentration of material in the teeter bed is is held steady as fresh pulp enters the system. The overall effect is to continually and automatically classify the ore pulp into several products with the densest and coarsest material discharging from the first spigot and progressively less dense and finer material discharging from subsequent spigots. The final overflow contains the finest material of all. By the mid 20th century a classifying device utilising centrifugal force to accelerate the settling rate of particles was being developed. The Hydrocyclone consists of a conically shape vessel, open at its apex or underflow, joined to a cylindrical section, which has a tangential feed inlet. A plate with a centrally positioned outlet pipe closes the top of the cylindrical section; this projects internally to connect with a short removable section called the vortex-finder. The feed pulp is pumped into the cylcone via the tangential inlet this swirls the pulp creating a vortex with a low-pressure zone along the central vertical axis. The particles are subjected to two opposing forces, an outward centrifugal forces and an inwardly acting drag. Thus the faster settling coarse and heavy particles move to the outside wall where they migrate down to the apex opening and discharge. The finer less dense particles move to the low-pressure zone and are carried upward through the vortex finder to the overflow. Hydrocyclones have replaced mechanical classifiers in most modern grinding plants, as they are more efficient, especially in the finer size ranges and their small size allows installation where floor space is limited. At Geevor all three types of classifying systems have been used. The 1912 plant use Richards-Jannay hydraulic classifiers and Callow Cones. The 1937 flow sheet shows several hydraulic classifier cones in use in all sections of the plant. The 1937/8

Geevor
Tin Mine Museum

2009

modernizations saw the introduction of rake classifiers in the washing plant and tabling/re-grind sections. The output from the 7ft Hardinge mill was pumped to a rake classifier, the underflow of which was further classified in a Stokes 10 spigot hydrosizer to feed a bank of James tables. A smaller 3-spigot hydrosizer (later changed to 7 spigots) was installed in the re-grind circuit. At the same time fine sand from the washing plant was classified by three hydraulic cone classifiers - the underflows bring treated on Frue vanners. By 1965 hydrocylones (used in conjunction with tables) replaced several concrete round frames in the slimes plant with further hydrocyclones in use in the tabling sections by 1968. The 1979/80 upgrade incorporated many changes to the classification systems. The output from the new primary milling circuit was pumped to a 48in Wemco double pitch spiral classifier. Sands from the spiral passed to a Stokes 8 spigot hydrosizer whilst the spiral overflow joined the hydrosizer overflow to be pumped to a bank of four Sala Krebs D10B hydrocyclones. The cyclone overflows were pumped to an additional bank Sala Krebs D6B hydrocylones for final slime separation. The Hummer screens were removed from the Hardinge 7ft mill circuit and replaced by a 36in Wemco spiral classifier to receive the coarse sand middlings from the new table plant. Also spirals replaced most of the remaining rake classifiers (only the rakes on the original regrind circuit are left). In the fine sand circuit, in the early 1980s the hydraulic cone classifiers are replaced by banks of hydrocyclones.