September 27, 2017

Primary crushers are breaking down boulder-sized rocks. Further down the same processing line, dry screening decks are segregating minerals. Curiously, there’s a different process operating further along the equipment train. This is the wet screening gear, the washing equipment that uses water to wash away fine grains and aggregate waste. Do mining companies need washing equipment? The answer is a resounding yes.


Picture water as a hydraulic force, just like the oscillating motors that vibrate the screening decks in an operating mine. Water pumps have their own installation base here, with pressurized pipes and hoses snaking away into the mining complex. They function as a first cut aggregate separator. Essentially, all of the sandy stuff that’s flowing around the rocky material is washed away during the wet screening process, so, yes, this is washing equipment working in the dirtiest imaginable environment.


There’s a lot more to mineral washing than a few pressurized water hoses. Urethane screens are funneling the wastewater into collector pans, perhaps for further treatment. Meanwhile, multiple decks and a high-flow water supply align in an intelligently designed manner so that the washing operation acts as a classification and screening mechanism. Employed correctly, the washing equipment removes these “fines” and any other stubborn geological residues. Incidentally, that latter sticky stuff usually suggests a layer of clay, a gooey red-orange sediment that can really gum up expensive mining equipment, unless, that is, there’s a mining equipment washing stage in the material processing chain.


It’s true that the liquid acts as a “fines” binder, one that efficiently carries the waste off to an awaiting collection plate. However, there’s still water in the mineral stream. This slurry needs drying. Dewatering equipment removes trapped water from the mineral solids, with vibratory shakers and a bank of hydrocyclones acting as the drying mechanism. The wastewater then exits the machinery and is recycled. As for the aggregate, it’s washed clean, it’s dry, and it’s prepped for the next stage.

The fact that mining companies need washing equipment may seem to fly against common sense, but think about it for a moment. Vibratory machinery is efficient, but there’s no actual contact taking place when motors oscillate screening decks. Wet screening equipment, though, it drives the water into the mineral stream so that sticky clay and hard-to-screen fines are promptly washed away. On top of all that, the washing equipment also functions as a capable first cut screening solution.


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