Process Mineralogy Today

A discussion resource for process mineralogy using todays technologies

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Category: Productivity


HAVE YOU VALIDATED YOUR MINERALOGY DATA?

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.  ...

Upskilling the Workforce using Operational Mineralogy

Luck-vs-Skill

Increasingly mining companies are recognizing the need to take on new technology developments in order to increase the efficiency and productivity of their operations and stay ahead of their competitors. Having highly skilled staff is important in making the implementation of new technology a success; however, finding such staff is an increasingly difficult task. Mining operations employ hundreds of employees with many different skill sets and upskilling these existing staff is the best way to fill any new positions created. Providing training and further education for existing staff can have many other benefits in the longer term including increasing staff morale, longer staff retention, and higher productivity.

 

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How can Operational Mineralogy be used to increase the efficiency of the identify, diagnose, execute, augment (I.D.E.A) cycle for continuous improvement?

The approach in Operational Mineralogy is to focus on generating mineralogical data that is useful for particular goals.  This helps to identify when the process plant is underperforming, diagnose where that is occurring and whether the root cause can be attributed to an unexpected change in ore characteristics or an operational issue.

 

Operational Mineralogy provides a tool in increasing the efficiency of the Identify, Diagnose, Execute, Augment (I.D.E.A) cycle for continuous improvement.  This can be built using daily mineralogical analysis to identify potential issues and provide direction for diagnosis of the problem, which can then be used in more targeted projects for more detailed diagnosis and development of solutions.  Assessing mineralogical trends on daily composites can allow rapid development of a process baseline, from which any fluctuations can flag that there may be an issue.

 

I.D.E.A cycle-2

 

 

The volume of data generated in an Operational Mineralogy program can rapidly become overwhelming. An iMin Solutions program is structured around three basic principles for use of data to allow decision makers at a mineral processing operation to more quickly arrive at useful decisions that add value to the operation:

 

  1. Identify: The use of mineralogical data, in conjunction with plant operations data, to efficiently identify areas of sub-optimal performance where improvements might be made.

 

  1. Diagnose: Once areas for potential improvement have been identified more detailed analysis of mineralogical information, whether further analysis of available data or through targeted analysis programs, may be used to diagnose the cause of the issue. Mineralogy will often only be one aspect of the process for diagnosis of issues but should form the basis of explaining phenomena that are noted in other available plant data.

 

  1. Execute: By using mineralogical information on a routine basis to identify and diagnose the cause of sub-optimal process operation the program will provide sufficient data to make informed decisions about implementing recommended solutions. The goal will be to generate sufficient information that value based decisions can be made, with potential impacts on other process areas assessed in the process.

 

  1. Augment: Once changes have been implemented, maintaining routine mineralogical analysis helps to quantify the benefits and whether additional improvements can be made.  This then feeds back into identification of further improvement opportunities.

 

 

The information generated in an Operational Mineralogy program will provide an operation with the tools to react faster to process issues. As the volume of data increases and long term trends can be established this reactive approach can be extended to evaluate the mining plan and algorithms generated to predict the performance of material before it is fed to the processing circuit.

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.

 

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What are the key goals of an operational mineralogy program?

Operational mineralogy key goals

Many operations deal with orebodies that are highly variable in metal grade, ore mineralogy, gangue mineralogy and processing behaviour. Ore with complex mineralogy, for example, where the target metal is hosted in many different minerals, needs complex flowsheets and means that defining the parameters for ‘good’ operation is hard to do. In this  situation the target is not the recovery of metal directly, but rather recovery of the metal bearing minerals. The distribution of metals in different host minerals is typically not consistent and building an understanding of what minerals are best recovered in which circuit has a significant influence on the targets for recovery and grade.

 

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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.

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Returning Mineral Processing to Profitability: The Cost Conscious Approach (Part 1)

As revenues from mining and mineral processing operations become largely volatile and under increased commodity price pressure, businesses and operators are re-thinking cost regimes to remain marginally profitable.  Operations can no longer afford inept “business as usual” philosophies to maintain the status quo. Hence, smarter ways of allocating and utilising both Capital and Operating resources are [more than before] required to sustain design “turnover ratios”. It is an imperative that Process Designs and Flow Sheet Developments embrace holistic “Life of Mine” Optimisation philosophies in order to deploy available resources in ways that maximize overall Net Values and deliver maximum Returns to all Stakeholders. The days of only maximising the reach of Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) at the expense of Operating Expenses (OPEX) should be long gone.

 

Figure 1: Typical Mineral Processing Cost Summary

Figure 1: Typical Mineral Processing Cost Summary

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Improving mining productivity: Is process mineralogy one of the keys?

Over the last few months there have been a number of reports released highlighting the declining trend in productivity for the mining sector.  This comes amid a scramble by many organisations to cut costs to compete in a market with both declining commodity prices and declining ore grades.   The question that should be being asked is how we can be smarter about processing to reverse the declining productivity trend and be ready to maximise gains when the inevitable recovery arrives.

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