Increasing SAG Mill capacity at the Copper Mountain Mine through the addition of a pre-crushing circuit.


Copper Mountain’s concentrator was commissioned in May 2011. The circuit consists of a 34’ x 20’ EGL SAG mill, a Raptor 900 pebble crusher and two 24’ x 39’6” ball mills. Each mill is equipped with a 2 x 8500 HP dual pinion drive system. The plant was designed to process 1585 mtph of SAG feed. From startup, the mill struggled to meet the required production rates. Over time, a major initiative that involved blasting and fragmentation, optimization of the SAG mill in terms of discharge grates, ball size and slurry density, and operation of up to three mobile pre-crushing plants resulted in significant increases in throughput. In parallel, a number of modeling tools, including JK SimMet, were run based on plant benchmarking exercises. Samples collected at the mine site during ramp up confirmed the very competent nature of the ore with drop weight - A*b values of less than 24 being recorded on a variety of plant feeds and lithologies. After due consideration including demonstration of proof of concept, a new pre-crushing circuit incorporating an XL2000 cone crusher and associated screening equipment was designed, constructed and commissioned at the site in August 2014. This paper reviews the history of the original circuit design, the various optimization steps taken and impacts, together with the final pre-crushing circuit and net results.


SAG mills, ball mills, pre-crushers, plant design, pre-crushing

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