Benchmarking Comminution Energy Consumption for Improved Efficiency

Volume Title: 12th Mill Operators' Conference 2014

A comprehensive Australia-wide survey of comminution energy consumption at copper and gold mines was presented by the authors at the 11th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2012. The database has been extended to include major overseas mines and used to benchmark comminution energy consumption across the industry. The mines included in this study now represent 15 and 24 per cent of the total global gold and copper production respectively, and almost all Australian production. The comminution energy intensity per unit of saleable metal has been presented in a graphical form similar to a cost curve used in economics. The graphical method has been developed to assess the competitive advantage that can be achieved by reducing comminution energy intensity.

This benchmarking tool has been applied to three published case studies to assess its applicability. The first case study indicated that a large reduction in size-specific energy (kWh/t -75 µm) was achievable by converting standard semi-autogenous and ball mill circuits to include high pressure grinding roll and stirred mills. The second case study investigated the metal-specific energy reduction historically achieved by Bougainville with the addition of a preconcentration screening plant. The final case study was conducted by Barrick Gold Corporation and involved incremental efficiency upgrades at three of its gold mines: Cortez, Cowal and Mara North. The application of the benchmarking tool to each of these case studies successfully demonstrated the scale and competitive advantage that was achieved by reducing energy intensity.


Ballantyne, G R and Powell, M S, 2014. Benchmarking comminution energy consumption for improved efficiency, in Proceedings 12th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2014 , pp 95–100 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).