Concentrator Design – Standard Engineering Practice versus Geometallurgy and Simulation

G Harbort and K Quan

MetPlant 2017 – Metallurgical Plant Design and Operating Strategies – World’s Best Practice, 11-12 Sep 2017, Perth, Australia


Traditional engineering practice for concentrator design uses a mixture of risk minimisation options and capital minimisation approaches. Often this is based on the preferences and experiences of the engineers involved.

A geometallurgical approach involves identifying primary lithology, alteration, and mineral dispersion patterns within a deposit to allow representative samples for test programs. This provides a method to infer from laboratory test results meaningful production data for larger amounts of the ore body. Geometallurgical models can be integrated into the resource block model and subsequent mine plan and can assist in predicting when difficulties in the processing route might be expected, allow adjustment of the design to compensate for these or provide an early warning system so that production forecasts can be more adequately developed.

Simulation modelling is the process of creating a computer model of a real system based on mathematical logic. In simulated time, the model explores the randomness and chronological sequencing of events observed on real systems. The objective is to mimic the real system with sufficient accuracy to make predictions of real behaviour under experimental conditions. Amec Foster Wheeler often use the ‘discrete-event’ simulation modelling technique. This method is well suited for inclusion of the statistical variation of effects in unit operation, mechanical availability, throughput and operating strategy (based on historical operating data for equipment downtime), operating schedules and equipment capacity. The net result of the simulation model is an analysis that can quantify risks in terms of system performance and capital and operating costs.


G Harbort (1), K Quan (2)

(1) – FAusIMM(CP), Technical Director – Process, Amec Foster Wheeler, Level 11, 144 Edward Street, Brisbane Qld 4000. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(2) – Group Lead, Operations Analysis, Amec Foster Wheeler, 4445 Lougheed Highway, Suite 600 Burnaby, BC V5C 0E4 Canada. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please contact the authors for further details of this paper.


CEEC acknowledges and thanks the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and MetPlant convenors and organising committee for organising the MetPlant 2017 Conference.

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