Process Mineralogy Today

A discussion resource for process mineralogy using todays technologies


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Category: Geometallurgy

A Brief Overview of In-situ Recovery (ISR)


Over the past few years there has been a renewed interest in in-situ recovery methods for metals (ISR). The concept of ISR is by no means new and has been used successfully in the past, especially in the recovery of uranium. CSIRO Waterford in Perth has been leading ISR research efforts in Australia. Along with international collaborators the industry is working towards more extensive application of ISR methods for commodities such as copper. This article is a brief overview of ISR methods and practical considerations for its application. ...

Working with High-Dimensional Data Part 4: Classifying Unknown Samples using Machine Learning Principles

In the previous articles in this series (part 1, part 2, and part 3) we’ve been performing analyses on an example high-dimensional geochemical data set from a resource feasibility study with the goal of developing a geometallurgical domain model, which could be used for sample selection for more detailed characterisation work and practical mine planning. In this article we continue with this example and take a closer look at how the geometallurgical domains from part 3 guide the grouping of unclassified samples collected from the same resource. ...

Working with High-Dimensional Data Part 3: Geospatial Mapping and Mine Planning


In part 1 of this introductory series about working with high-dimensional data we looked at dimensionality reduction to allow the visualisation of complex data. Part 2 of the series explored the K-means clustering method as a technique to classify samples according to their geochemical characteristics. In this article we place the classified samples back into their geospatial context and use the spatial relationships between the clusters to define a behaviour profile, which is aimed at guiding critical mine planning decisions. ...

How do geometallurgical models relate to operational mineralogy?

In preparation for the AusIMM Geomet ’16 conference in Perth next week we thought a brief introduction to how operational mineralogy can be used to build or enhance geometallurgical models would be of interest.  It is a question that we get asked a lot and an area where the application seems to lag behind the capability available to operations now.  Mineralogy is often viewed as too complex or too expensive to be a core aspect of a geometallurgical development program but by moving the capability to site a whole range of possibilities is opened up.  MinAssist will be presenting a workshop introducing operational mineralogy and how it can be used with production geometallurgy at the Geomet ’16 conference.  There are still places available so if you are in Perth be sure to sign up.




Put simply, geometallurgy is the science of relating geochemical assay data to orebody mineralogy and orebody mineralogy to metallurgical testwork results with the ultimate aim of being able to predict metallurgical response using geochemical and mineralogical data. Operational mineralogy uses mineralogy together with geochemical assay data to understand and optimise mineral processing of an orebody. Typically, a geometallurgical model is constructed in the early stages of an operation, perhaps during prefeasibility and feasibility. Operational mineralogy is a component of sampling during active mineral processing and is undertaken once mining and processing has commenced.


There are obvious synergies between geometallurgical modelling and operational mineralogy. One of the first steps of an operational mineralogy program is to undertake a detailed material characterisation study to establish mineralogy and determine key textural information for typical feed material that will be processed in the short to middle term. If a geometallurgical model of the orebody already exists, domains of consistent mineralogy will already have been modelled. The geometallurgical model can be applied as a guide for early operational mineralogy sampling, resulting in a more representative operational mineralogy survey.


Conversely, once an operational mineralogy program is established at a site where a geometallurgical model exists, the mineralogy for feed material can be reconciled with the model. The results of the reconciliation process can be used to update the geometallurgical model. Actual processing performance of feed characterised by operational mineralogy can be used to update the geometallurgical model in order to make it more predictive for processing of future feed material.


For example, a geometallurgical model may have a domain of material where metal recovery is related to a combination of grade and pyrite content. Once updated with operational mineralogy data for feed from this same domain this relationship can be further refined and applied back to predict the behaviour of remaining in-ground material.


Geometallurgical models are based on thousands of assay data points, hundreds of mineralogy analyses and tens of metallurgical testwork results. If a geometallurgical model can be updated with operational mineralogy data and real processing performance data the amount of data in the model will increase exponentially resulting in a far more robust predictive tool.


If you want to find out more contact us or sign up for our workshop, Introduction to Operational Mineralogy at Geomet ’16.



Workshop: Basics of Operational Mineralogy




For all of you who are going to, or thinking about going to, the AusIMM Geomet 16 conference in Perth we look forward to seeing you there.  If you have been following our series on Operational Mineralogy, or are just interested in how you can begin to build a capability for mineralogy at the mineral processing plant then we strongly encourage you to stick around until Friday the 17th of June and attend our workshop on the “Basics of Operational Mineralogy“.  This workshop has been designed to provide a grounding in how to set up Operational Mineralogy on-site, what the benefits are and how it can be linked to geometallurgical modelling to support forecasting and reconciliation.  Places are limited so register here to secure your seat.


The iMin Workbench – A framework for predictive control with mineralogy

Since the introduction of automated mineralogy almost 40 years ago the holy grail has been to bring the capability to operational sites.  Having mineralogical information at our fingertips in a form simple enough to be used in day-to-day decision making is something that is well established in bringing huge benefits to operations, but it is only now, with the introduction of ruggedised SEM systems and cloud based expert support becoming a reality.  Pioneers such as Wolfgang Baum with Phelps Dodge and Robert Schouwstra with Anglo Platinum, among a swathe of others have highlighted the positives that integrating mineralogy into process optimisation can bring when applied on a project basis.  More recently the success that we have had at Kansanshi Copper Mine is testament that this can be extended to the day-to-day operation of large complex sites.  Now that this capability is at our fingertips it is time to start thinking about how all this extra data can be useful for operations, without overwhelming the site personnel and becoming more trouble than it is worth.


After the introduction of iMin Solutions I wanted to introduce the framework in which we are developing not only generation of mineralogy on-site but the support structures that need to be in place to make the most value from that investment.  Today I will introduce the iMin Workbench, which is the framework in which we will tie the generation of mineralogy information on-site with how it can be integrated with existing datasets to bring true predictive analytics to our operations.


How the iMin Workbench can be implemented to add revenue to your operation

How the iMin Workbench can be implemented to add revenue to your operation




From Paragenesis to Processing: Geological Reconstructions Carry Implications for Mineral Processing




This case study briefly highlights the potential to derive, in an approximate sense, likely processing behaviour from geological reconstructions. In turn, this information can feed into geometallurgical planning allowing the early stage recognition of potential processing flowpaths that can be used to optimise recovery.  The case study is pulled together from analysis undertaken on the Merensky reef at Northam Platinum Ltd in South Africa.


The Merensky Reef at Northam Platinum shows a complex range of reef developments with several distinct reef types that are processed through the run-of-mine. These differences can be related to the paragenetic history of the deposit with the differing mineralogy related to the changing footwall mineralogy at the time of the hanging wall deposition. This case study looks at three of those reef types (the Normal Reef, the transitional Pothole reef and the full Pothole reef) which contain distinct differences in their mineralogical deportment.


The differing mineralogy of the footwall at the time of hanging wall deposition resulted in differences in modal mineralogy, the amount of floatable gangue and the sulphide textural development. These differences in turn led to predictable differences in milling times, mineral liberation and sulphide flotation performance. As the Merensky reef is a platinum-group element (PGE) ore with the majority of the platinum-group minerals contained within sulphides, these differences are crucial.



Geometallurgy – A Geologist’s Approach

Pebble 3D alt model figure

Source: Harraden, C.L., McNulty, B.A., Gregory, M.J., & Lang, J.R., 2013. Shortwave Infrared Spectral Analysis of Hydrothermal Alteration Associated with the Pebble Porphyry Copper-Gold-Molybdenum Deposit, Iliamna, Alaska, USA. Economic Geology 108 (3), p. 483-494.

From a geologist’s point of view geological models form the starting point of successful geometallurgical studies. Most importantly, geological models consist of domains with similar characteristics, whether that be rock type or hydrothermal alteration type, that provide a framework for the geometallurgical characterization of an ore deposit.


Presentations and written contributions on the expanding area of geometallurgy are often focused on the definition of the term “geometallurgy”, with discussion concentrated on the aims, benefits, and importance of geometallurgical studies.   However, the planning, designing and, more importantly, the execution of geometallurgical studies are of considerably more importance.  Many of the current approaches to geometallurgy involve the analysis of bulk samples to produce data sets that combine mineralogy and whole-rock major and trace element geochemistry with automated core logging and rock scanning technology to quantify rock texture. In such studies, sample selection is driven by geostatistical modeling and requires a large number of samples to satisfy the statistics.



Third AusIMM International Geometallurgy Conference


It’s time to start thinking about the 3rd AusIMM International Geometallurgy Conference to be held in Perth, Australia from June 15-17 2016.   The AusIMM Geomet conferences provide a great multi-disciplinary venue to explore what has been happening in Geometallurgy and general characterisation of ore body knowledge.

The call for papers is currently out and abstracts are due by the 17th of August.  I strongly encourage you to take the plunge and especially if you have an example of how geometallurgy is being applied outside of academic circles on real world operations.



ZEISS Mineralogic-Mining: a new automated mineralogy system on the market

This week, ZEISS released the latest automated mineralogy system to hit the market; Mineralogic-Mining.  Mineralogic-Mining combines a scanning electron microscope with one or more EDS detectors, a mineral analysis engine and the Mining software plug-in, and is available on a range of ZEISS SEM platforms including tungsten and FEG options.  ZEISS have a long-running history in the automated mineralogy field, with many instruments around the world based on ZEISS platforms, and this latest release represents one of several new products coming to the market from their expanding natural resources group.