Process Mineralogy Today

A discussion resource for process mineralogy using todays technologies


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Category: MinAssist

Virtual Mineral Processing Assistance with MinAssist

The rapid developments with COVID-19 mean that access to experts for dealing with process issues has become much harder.  This doesn’t mean that below target performance or process issues need to impact your productivity.  MinAssist has developed a digital framework to ensure you continue to have access to the best mineral processing expertise.

Keep on reading!


Do you rely on routine SEM-EDS mineral analysis to monitor or drive process development and operational optimisation? Have you ever considered the reliability and consistency of your mineralogy data? The current framework for validating mineralogy results is often not visible to the end-user and in many instances inadequate to form a clear understanding of data quality. To address these shortcomings MinAssist has developed a new solution to reduce risk and give you more confidence in your SEM-EDS results so that you can focus on the interpretation and application of the data.  ...

Welcoming Pieter Botha to the MinAssist team


We would like to welcome Pieter Botha to the MinAssist team.  I worked closely with Pieter at Intellection on development of the QEMSCAN system.  He brings a deep knowledge of automated mineralogy applications and will be a really valuable addition to our team.  Many of you will know Pieter so don’t hesitate to get in touch and say hi.


Pieter holds a BSc (Hons) degree in geology, a Masters degree in igneous petrology, and he recently completed his PhD at the Department of Applied Mathematics in the Research School of Physics and Engineering at The Australian National University. From 2006-2012 Pieter worked in industry where he gained extensive experience in commercially driven consulting and research. His work focussed on the use of mineralogy and geochemistry data such as SEM-EDS (QEMSCAN), XRD, and XRF for geometallurgy and process mineralogy applications in mining, and reservoir characterisation in the oil and gas industry. He has a particularly strong background in the operation of automated mineralogy systems, data analysis, and application-specific interpretation. Some of you may remember Pieter from his days at Intellection and FEI where he was instrumental in conducting consulting services, providing customer support, applications development, and system training for new QEMSCAN users. Pieter’s recent PhD work at The ANU in Canberra was based on small scale 3D micro-CT images of core samples to develop a statistical method of predicting flow properties in large scale CT images, which capture more heterogeneity, however, because of insufficient image resolution, prevents the direct computation of fluid flow properties. The predicted flow data is ideally suited to inform larger scale geological models of reservoirs and aquifers. Apart from earth sciences Pieter enjoys running with his dog, mountain biking, graphic design, and most recently woodworking.


In his new role at MinAssist Pieter will be involved in a range of projects including data analysis and product development. We are keen to engage more with the automated mineralogy and geosciences community and Pieter will be in contact soon to give you more information on how you can become involved.

iMin (mineral) – building operational mineralogy capability for minerals processing

160516_IMG_Kansanshi mill

The iMin(mineral) package was developed by Dr Will Goodall at MinAssist as a tool for minerals processing operations to effectively access routine mineralogical information generated on-site.  The tool has subsequently been developed through iMin Solutions to allow for more focused development and marketing.



7 Considerations in setting up an operational mineralogy program

OM blog infographicThe use of routine mineralogical characterisation of targeted process streams can have significant value for an operation.  This is especially true where complex ore types or high variability in material characteristics occurs.  When establishing the requirements for operational mineralogy it is important to consider all aspects of the process, from target stream identification, sampling and mineralogical analysis to data reporting and most importantly, how that data will be used to increase productivity of the operation.


Why we should consider operational mineralogy


Operational mineralogy infographicIn most operations we understand that minerals are being processed but we tend to almost exclusively rely on chemical assays to monitor the health of the process and make day-to-day decisions.  This often means that we are making decisions based on only one part of the puzzle and the ability to accurately identify issues and efficiently address them is compromised.  With lower grade and more complex resources becoming the norm it is becoming even more important to utilise all the tools available to maximise productivity and ensure that avoidable metal losses aren’t occurring.


5 common misconceptions about process mineralogy


Process mineralogy is a term that is used in a lot of contexts from process optimisation to Geometallurgy but it’s usefulness and application is often clouded by misconceptions that it is too hard or “our ore body is homogeneous and simple”.  For many of you the term has probably come up in conversations about ore types but have you ever stopped to think what getting a better understanding of mineralogy at could mean for your operation and whether it might actually make your job easier?


What is Geometallurgy?

With today’s increasingly complex ore bodies, it is no longer sufficient to use grade and tonnes alone to manage risk and optimise an operation.  In response to this, Geometallurgy is being increasingly employed; seeking allow a block model of an ore deposit to be developed based on key metallurgical parameters and the predicted response of the rock during mining, processing and subsequent environmental management.  To help explain how and where geometallurgy can be used, MinAssist has compiled a short white paper introducing the subject: What is Geometallurgy?


What is Geometallurgy?


What is Process Mineralogy?

The use of Process Mineralogy has increasingly become a larger part of everyday operation in mines and mineral processing plants.  To explain what Process Mineralogy is and how it can be effectively used, MinAssist has compiled a short white paper entitled: What is Process Mineralogy?  to help make this important discipline more accessible to a wider audience.


The importance of mineralogy and texture: Sphalerite hosted Chalcopyrite displaying a range of grain sizes.

The importance of mineralogy and texture: Sphalerite hosted Chalcopyrite displaying a range of grain sizes.


Process Mineralogy can be considered the practical application of mineralogical knowledge to aid mineral exploration, and to predict and optimise how an ore can best be mined and processed.  It bridges mineral processing and traditional mineralogy, and is a specialisation within the field of applied mineralogy.  Process Mineralogy is being increasingly applied in areas such as geometallurgy, ore characterisation, process design, plant optimisation and tailings management; driven by todays increasingly complex ore bodies, and the rising pressure to reduce operational cost and risk. Responsible environmental management also demands a greater understanding of the minerals and their textures.


Tailings Health Check


Lost material going out to the tailings is a hard reality – however are all the losses unavoidable without a major change to the flowsheet or the economics of an operation… or is there material that could still be recovered?  A process mineralogical study of the tailings stream can provide a valuable insight in to the proportion of recoverable vs non-recoverable losses; and may pinpoint some material that can be recovered without major operational changes.  MinAssist has developed the second in it’s suite of off-the-shelf process mineralogy studies; making it quick, simple and cost effective to undertake a Tailings Health Check.


The tailings stream provides the ultimate ‘truth’ for how well a processing operation is running; is everything being recovered that should be recovered?  If not; why not, and what can be done about it?