New coal fines recovery solutions can help miners go green, save greenbacks and grow optionality
by jesse morton, technical writer
History is replete with examples of how what is considered a resource at any given point hinges on the technologies of the day. What today is piped to the thickener or the pond may tomorrow be a cash cow for a company with the right equipment and know-how. Similarly, with the right technological breakthrough, today’s waste may be tomorrow’s fuel.
For example, three new solutions that recover coal fines from what otherwise might be considered waste use technologies originally designed for metals miners. Glencore Technology’s Jameson Cell, proven in Australian coal plants, was originally designed for use on a lead/zinc circuit. Minerals Refining Co.’s first commercial coal fines recovery plant uses a technique based on one originally developed for copper ore processing in Britain in the early 1900s. Arq’s new Corbin plant that will produce from coal waste a powder so pure it can be mixed with fuel oil uses flotation technology that is commonly used by metals miners.
These three solutions are now on the market. The companies report they are looking to branch out, form strategic partnerships and innovate further. More importantly, they seek to empower coal miners to turn what was once considered discard into cold hard cash.