Barite Mud Services Inc.: Upgrade Project

Project:

The project is located in Buchans central Newfoundland and involved the assessment and upgrade of a barite processing facility for improved throughput, recovery and safety compliance. The site re-processes tailings from the historic dams to recover a Barite product. The process involves: Dredging, Overland Pumping, Thickening, Spiral Classification, Sulphide Flotation, Oxide Flotation, Thickening & Filtration, Product Drying (300°C) and Storage/Loadout. Originally the site was established as a lead and zinc operation from the ASARCO underground mine in 1927.

The Barite product is used as a drilling mud for the offshore oil operations in Newfoundland.

The Challenge:

The client had a very tight budget and required the final product to meet the API (American Petroleum Industry) quality standard. Most of the existing equipment and many of the structures were antiquated with minimal documentation. The existing process required significant re-working and the client’s workforce needed ongoing support and training.

The mine is a seasonal operation and whereas normally all the staff only work in the summer they were subsequently retained to implement the mechanical, structural and electrical work under the direction of Halyard’s site supervisor.

Halyard Scope:

Time and Materials: design, project management, site supervision, commissioning and handover of the upgraded facility.

Action:

When Halyard was engaged the site was just ramping up for the 2015 production season and an operations supervisor was deployed to the site to assist with this task. However, it soon became apparent that due to numerous process and technical shortcomings that the operation would not produce satisfactory product in terms of quantity, quality and profitably. Halyard recommended that the plant be shut down for the season and immediately commence with a capital program to rectify these issues.

A theoretical process evaluation along with a rapid testwork program was undertaken and an updated flowsheet and mass balance were compiled. Thereafter changes were made to the flow sheet and extensive repairs were undertaken on the thickeners, pumping systems, classification, spiral and flotation circuits, reagent systems and product dryer.

Additionally, Halyard implemented an improved work order system, metallurgical accounting system, safety improvements and laboratory upgrades.

The site was fortunate to have an extensive machine shop from the previous operations and this was utilized to remanufacture the majority of the parts for the thickeners, pumps and dryer. Only where absolutely necessary were external contractors brought in, for example the relining of the diesel fired rotary drum dryer and cranes for heavy lifts.

Following the completion of the plant upgrades, Halyard took charge of re-commissioning the site and slowly ramping up production. It was critical that the product complied to stringent API specifications and thus ramp up was very slow to ensure that product quality took preference over product quantity.

Result:

The result of the project is that Halyard was able to work with the client in a very versatile manner where cost expenditures were kept to a minimum in order to upgrade the facility. Old equipment was modernized/automated and thoroughly repaired for serviceable operation.

The fact that the operations & maintenance staff were used to rebuild the plant gave them valuable exposure and insight to the fundamentals of the operation ensuring their long term buy-in.

Aspects of this work qualified for government funding programs and Halyard assisted with the composition and submission of these claims to the government bodies which were successful.

Additionally, some of the upgrades were considered so unique that Halyard were asked to present details of these at the annual Newfoundland CIM (Canadian Institute of Mining) symposium in the form of a paper.

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