A new kaolin mining operation in Wickepin, Western Australia, is utilising an integrated automation solution to reduce overall costs, improve scheduling, and deliver ongoing benefits to operations.
Kaolin, which is becoming increasingly valuable, is a soft white clay that has been surging in demand, with uses in applications including paper and plasterboard, ceramics, fiberglass, paints and coatings, plastics, rubber, pharmaceuticals and medicine, cosmetics, concrete construction materials and agriculture.
WA Kaolin – an ASX-listed mineral exploration, extraction, and processing company – has developed a proprietary dry processing method known as K99, which turns raw material into market-suitable feedstock for global customers.
Combined with the high quality of the ore reserve, the K99 process delivers high-quality ultra-bright kaolin at a lower cost than conventional chemical bleaching and magnetic separation processing.
WA Kaolin has constructed a Stage 1 commercial processing plant on a three-hectare site in Wickepin, about 200 kilometres southeast of Perth, Western Australia. The site has been identified as having a mineral resource estimate of more than 600 million tonnes of extremely high grade, easy access kaolin across its mining and retention tenements, one of the largest known remaining premium primary resources of kaolin in the world.
There is a strategic plan in place to expand production capacity to exceed 400,000 tons per annum (tpa) after 36 months, so WA Kaolin selected engineering and planning consultancy, Willyung Electrical & Controls Engineering (WECE) to manage the process of steadily scaling up.
WECE analysed the requirements, and selected Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx® Distributed Control System (DCS) to provide a single, plant-wide control system, with the flexibility to make better and faster business decisions and a scalable solution for future expansion.