Processing ore to extract minerals is a highly inefficient process, and one which uses the largest proportion of electrical energy on a mining site. Chunks of rock are milled to smaller sizes to allow the precious metals to be extracted from the ore. Research and alternative systems design has been conducted to demonstrate ways in which precious metals may be separated from the ore body more efficiently; including ore classification, gangue rejection and additional crushing prior to grinding. But the simplest way to reduce the milling time is to ensure the particles are pre-treated before milling i.e. have undergone a blasting process resulting in more effective particle serration or fragmentation. The economic and environmental impact of this pre-milling process is substantial: it has the potential to increase production while reducing operating costs. This is good news for investors.
The 2014 CEEC’s Medal was awarded to Dr Geoff Brent, Peter Dare-Bryan, Stuart Hawke, and Michael Rothery for their paper titled Ultra-High-intensity Blasting – A new Paradigm in Mining presented at WorldGold in 2013.
“Blasting is notionally seen as the first stage of comminution. It is where the first stage of rock breakage occurs. Opportunities to better link the properties of the orebody with a more deliberate blast pattern can have hugely significant benefits in comminution efficiency.” Dr Zeljka Pokrajcic, Chair of the CEEC Medal selection committee and Principal Processing Engineer, WorleyParsons.
The 2014 winning paper addresses comminution optimisation at the most essential level: fragmentation. Improved processing efficiency will be achieved when particle breakage is optimised, and less material is milled. High intensity blasting has the potential to deliver a step change in processing costs, particularly when used with classification, advanced ore sorting and more crushing than grinding.
‘Mine to mill studies in the last 20 years have shown that optimising blasting is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of maximising comminution energy efficiency by getting the right particle size to the grinding circuits. We are therefore pleased to be able to recognise further progress in implementing blasting best practice in the award of this year’s CEEC Medal.’ Prof T Napier-Munn, CEEC Director.
The CEEC Medal celebrates and recognises the most outstanding research and field work on beneficial strategies for eco-efficient comminution ( crushing and grinding minerals), in line with CEEC’s mission. The CEEC Medal is granted annually to the author/s of the most outstanding published paper profiling strategies for eco-efficient comminution.
Papers nominated for the 2014 CEEC Medal came from the most revered industry conferences and publications,authored by teams working from a variety of different angles to address the same issue; improving mineral processing efficiency.
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