Process Mineralogy Today

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Tailings Health Check

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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?  

 
Can recovery be improved at an acceptable operational cost and still maintain the desired concentrate grade?  This will in large part be controlled by the mineralogy; and in particular the texture of the ore and the elemental distribution.  Which size fractions do the losses report to, what is the degree of liberation, what is the lost material associated with, what minerals are the element(s) of interest reporting to and are they in solid solution?  
 
The better the characteristics of any losses are understood, the stronger the decision making can be and therefore the lower the risk.  The response may be simple, involving a relatively small change to the plant to allow for what is perhaps a small change in ore type.  Equally, armed with such knowledge it might be decided that it is worthwhile making more significant changes in order to gain even more significant benefits.  
 
At MinAssist we often see sites where the project metallurgist is expected to manage improvement programs for all stages of the circuit, along with keeping the process running and becomes overwhelmed.  We are therefore working on developing a series of pre-defined Circuit Health Checks that a busy project metallurgist can select straight ‘off the shelf’ from MinAssist, run with a minimum of hassle, and gain some potential quick benefits.  Simply select the most applicable Health Check Option, collect the relevant sample and MinAssist will do the rest.  This suite of programs is focused on bringing cost savings, recovery improvements and general risk reduction through improved understanding of ore types.
 
If you feel that there is potential for reducing the losses to tailings, or just haven’t thought much about it, then we encourage you to have a look at the MinAssist Tailings Health Check and get in touch with us.  
 
If you would like more information on this program or other process mineralogical services that MinAssist can provide then feel free to contact us anytime for a discussion.

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About the Author: Al Cropp

Al is a process mineralogist with qualifications in both engineering geology and gemmology, and a background in minerals processing. He has nearly 10 years experience in applying automated mineralogy (QEMSCAN / MLA) techniques to various commodities and applications to add value in the mining and mineral processing chain. Connect with Al via LinkedIn by copying and pasting the following link: uk.linkedin.com/pub/al-cropp/13/454/b3a/

Visit Al Cropp's website.

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