Hatch Helm Tracker for Guiding Cell House Performance Improvement

Author(s) R. Fraser, T. Johnston, J. Yesberg
Copper 2013 Dec 2, Santiago, Chile


In electrowinning (EW) and electrorefining (ER) operations, the detection of short circuits and poor current distribution has been a very labour intensive reactive operations task. The Hatch HELM tracker™ system measures and records the current flow of every cathode and/or anode in real time and presents this information to the operators through an interactive display clearly indicating the existence of shorts, poor contacts, and any uneven current distribution. It also provides operators with help with prioritisation to allow efficient correction of current distribution issues. Expected benefits include increases in current efficiency, and thus reduction in operating costs and/ or increases in production, as well as reduction in electrode damage due to shorts.

Hatch has been demonstrating the robustness and performance of the HELM tracker system through trials at commercial copper EW and ER plants including at EW facilities operated by Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), with assistance from the company’s management, technology and operating personnel. This paper includes some observations and outcomes from these trials as well as technical advances from other trial locations. The technology is almost ready for commercialization and the paper describes the business case for installing the HELM tracker system in copper EW applications indicating the financial payback of the system for this particular application.