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?
Rather than reacting to a spike in losses to tails, imagine a situation where plant operators know exactly how to process the next 24 hours of feed ore that is sitting on the conveyor belt ahead of time. How much risk would this remove from an operation? Now imagine plant operators being able to walk along this ‘virtual’ conveyor belt and plan for exactly what will be coming in tomorrow and how it will behave. Continue to extend the vision, where the operator can continue to walk along the side of this ‘virtual’ conveyor and stop at any point representing next week, next month, next year… through to the end of the life of the mine: and at any given point in time, know what the ore will be, how it will process, how to operate the plant to; maximize recovery, optimise cost efficiency, and effectively manage the environmental impact.
If the properties of the ore are not fully understood, the ore will vary, metallurgical response will change, and increased losses and concentrate dilution will occur. An even bigger challenge and expense may then arise from chasing the problem because the same response may arise from poor plant operation or performance; so which is it? Do you ignore the problem and accept variable recovery, or spend more time and money chasing the issue down without knowing where to look?
This is Geometallurgy: developing the knowledge that will subsequently help drive mine planning, blending strategy, processing philosophy and day-to-day operation, and environmental management.
MinAssist has an ongoing publication schedule involving a series of Process Mineralogy Today blog posts and associated white papers covering various subjects related to process mineralogy, mineral processing and geometallurgy. The purpose of these is to raise awareness of the use and value of this field amongst non-specialists, and to provide a discussion forum and resources for the use of domain experts. MinAssist encourages you to comment on this blog, and to suggest or contribute to otherposts and white papers.
If you would like more information on this or any of the process mineralogical services that MinAssist can provide, then please contact us.