Process Mineralogy Today

A discussion resource for process mineralogy using todays technologies


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Category: Uncategorized

Analytics in Mineral Processing


Mineral processing plants are one of the most data rich parts of any mining operation.  Data is generated and stored for practically every step of the process but do we get the most value from this data?

Keep on reading!


The most common approach to assessing the accuracy of QEMSCAN mineralogy results is to compare the measured assay with the mineralogy-computed chemical assay. In this method we assume the measured assay results are the correct values, which means we also assume that the sub-samples used for chemical assay and QEMSCAN analysis are identical, or equally representative, and that the SEM-EDS sample preparation procedure has not introduced any bias. However, the nature of QEMSCAN data means that is quite easy to achieve an acceptable reconciliation of less than 10 or 15% (depending on the element) with very different mineralogy results. ...

Zeiss release Mineralogic Mining 1.1 update

Nickel sulphide ore by Mineralogic Mining. Sample courtesy of The University of Leicester, UK

Nickel sulphide ore by Mineralogic Mining. Sample courtesy of The University of Leicester, UK

Zeiss microscopy have recently announced the release of version 1.1 of their Mineralogic Mining software.  After releasing Mineralogic Mining in July 2014 Zeiss have been working hard to expand the capabilities and provide a tool that can be targeted at on-site mineralogy as well as the laboratory.  MinAssist have been fortunate enough to work on a project over the past 6 months using the Mineralogic Mining software and have been pleased with what it offers. 



Geometallurgy Conference (IOM3), London, June 2014

The recent IOM3 (UK Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining) Geometallurgy 2014 Conference held in London, UK on the 9-10th June was well attended by nearly 60 delegates from all over the world. It was great to see many familiar faces from Australia, North and South America, as well as making some new contacts. In terms of attendee demographic, consultants and service providers made up the largest group, with researchers, students and miners making up the bulk of the rest. It is a reflection of the growing recognition of the importance of geometallurgy and mineral engineering that such dedicated conferences are springing up around the world, and that people come so far to be a part of them. This was the first such event held by the IOM3, but the support and the quality of presentations will undoubtedly see the event grow in subsequent years.


geomet conf

Fig 1. Typical stages of the life of a mine. Timing of the geological and geometallurgical models are shown in purple, and overlain by various risk profiles. Curves are generalised and timing / scale will vary for every operation.


Reprocessing Tailings Dams – A systematic Approach (Part 1)

This is the first of two blogs examining the reprocessing of tailings dams.


Millions of tonnes of sulphide tailings are produced each year from base metal and gold flotation operations. Of these tailings a substantial amount is stored in tailings dams of which an example is shown in Figure 1. These tailings invariably contain sulphides which have potential to cause acid mine drainage (AMD). Sustainable environmental management of tailings is required to mitigate acid mine drainage and to ensure potential future liability at mine closure is obviated. If the sulphide component of tailings could be separated out relatively simply into a low volume fraction that could be separately stored and managed it would represent a major step forward in the environmental management of sulphide tailings (Bruckard and McCallum, 2007).


Fig 1. Ernest Henry Mine – Tailings Dam



Mineralogical Modelling: Rule of Thumb vs Probability Methods (Part 1)

This is the first of two blog posts on mineralogical modelling where we highlight some of the terminology used and misconceptions made.  Part 2 will further develop the theme by comparing the value of using rule-of-thumb and probability -based particle modelling principals.



Many users of mineralogical analysis focus only on elementary concepts such as grain size.  Yet there are many levels of depth available to analyse liberation data.  In this section we focus on using liberation data in a simulation model.  Critical to understanding mineralogy is the concept of ‘liberation’.  A particle is considered liberated if it consists of only one mineral.  Conversely a particle is considered ‘barren’ if it contains no valuable mineral.  There are a few issues with ‘liberation’ defined in this way.  For a start is it really important if a particle is say 99% valuable mineral rather than 100% mineral?  Because the purest definition (particles consisting of only valuable mineral) is of limited value, the word ‘liberation’ has become generalised, and to some extent over-used.  Yet when discussing ‘liberation’ generally we are simply referring to how distinct the valuable mineral is from the associated gangue.

Various definitions of particle types (Liberated, Binary, MultiMineral)

Fig 1. Various definitions of particle types (Liberated, Binary, MultiMineral)


Using mineralogical understanding as a building block for plant process improvement

Developers and operators of mining and mineral processing operations face constant challenges to become more efficient, whilst at the same time being faced with increasingly complex ore bodies.  This complexity is characterised by multiple mineralisation events and complex formation histories, leading to variation in ore mineralogy.  This inconsistency can often be explained by changes in the ore texture, or the relationship between minerals present in the ore.  Understanding the ore texture can be a very useful tool in developing a process flowsheet or optimising an existing circuit.  For complex ore bodies with multiple ore textures this understanding is not only useful, but is essential to manage variability, reduce risk and optimise the operation.

Ore Feed Recovery

MinAssist has complied a short white paper discussing some of the mineralogical influences on feed ore quality and subsequent recovery: The Influence of Rock Texture on Processing


Welcome to 2010!

Welcome to another exciting year for the minerals industry.  Compared to this time last year optimism is high and the drive to make the most of what appears to be a continuing boom in the mining industry is certainly there.  At MinAssist we have seen increased confidence and optimism since the middle of last year and it seems that forward thinking mining companies are continuing to embrace mineralogy as a driver in many process optimisation and development projects.