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IMP Automation joins FLSmidth



Projects » Automation Projects » Copper » FMI Central Analytical Service Centre CASC Laboratory Arizona

FMI Central Analytical Service Centre CASC Laboratory Arizona


Phelps Dodge Mining Company (FMI Central Analytical Service Centre CASC in Safford Arizona) decided to pursue the design and construction of a Central Analytical Service Center (CASC) Laboratory to provide chemical analyses for their Arizona and New Mexico operations. This centralized approach was selected instead of refurbishing six older laboratories that operated at the various Phelps Dodge sites, and which would not have permitted full automation and use of robotics.


The new laboratory was designed by staff from Phelps Dodge's Process Technology Center working in cooperation with IMP from South Africa. The CASC facility encompasses fully automated sample preparation of blast holes and geological samples weighing up to 15 kg per sample. It consists of a number of different sections that perform a variety of different analyses.


The new laboratory offers flexibility for handling speciality samples and analyses by either a semi-automated or manual mode. Data handling and transfer is accomplished by the “StarLIMS” system, a commercially available Laboratory Information Management System. The CASC was commissioned in the first quarter of 2006, and by the end of 2006 the laboratory operation had reached design capacity for blast hole sample throughput of 1000 samples per day.


The CASC, which operates on a 24/7 schedule, represents the most advanced and automated chemical production laboratory in the copper industry and achieves considerable savings in operating cost, reduced sample preparation errors and significantly increased analytical quality. In addition, the CASC includes the first “wet chemistry module” worldwide to be operated by robotics systems to perform a variety of copper analyses, and a fully automated laboratory for the electro-won copper cathode method. Below is a summary of the capabilities at the CASC facility that have been supplied by IMP.


Sample Preparation

The sample preparation area consists of 2 lines with an automated 4 robot sample preparation circuit for copper blast hole samples with drying, crushing, splitting and pulverising capabilities. A third smaller line which was added at a later date offers additional capacity for sample preparation with 2 crushers, splitters and pulverisers. Samples are then transferred to either an automated XRD and NIR analysis system, or to a world first robotically operated wet chemistry module.


Wet Chemistry Module

The wet chemistry process at CASC was a world first for fully robotically operated copper analysis. Prepared samples are delivered for processing by two unique Cartesian robotic systems to provide total copper, quick leach tests, and acid soluble copper results. This allows for precise and accurate analytical results, with minimal room for operator error.


Copper Cathode Analysis

Copper cathode analysis is also a fully automated process with strips or punched discs being melted in an argon furnace. These cast samples undergo subsequent surface preparation on an HF-FF milling machine, and are then sent for OES (Optical Emission Spectroscopy) analysis.


XRD and NIR Analysis

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IMP wishes to thank the Phelps Dodge directors and management for this ground breaking opportunity to again demonstrate their expertise in the field of turnkey automated laboratory design and project management.



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