Maintaining the Benefit — How to Ensure Mine to Mill Continues to Work for You

Metso Minerals Process Technology Asia-Pacific (MMPT-AP) has been working with many mining companies worldwide performing ‘Mine to Mill’ or Process Integration and Optimisation (PIO) studies. MMPT-AP has developed a proven methodology to improve the efficiency of the mine-mill interface and gain maximum benefit. The PIO methodology involves rock characterisation, mathematical modelling and simulation to generate a list of operational and control changes for both the mine and concentrator.

Following the methodology, the list of recommendations is developed relatively easily; the more challenging part depends on the company. Success of a PIO project relies on the ability of an organisation to implement change – both operationally and culturally: the human element.

When a PIO project is started, there is initial interest and commitment from the company. But how can this be maintained? How does an operation know if the benefit continues? MMPT-AP is now developing long-term relationships with clients to ensure that the increased production and improved efficiency continues. Direct and indirect measurements are used to determine the key factors involved and to understand the cause/effect relationships. Simulation tools also can be used to compare current with recommended practices – so when material properties vary over time, the benefits can still be quantified.

PIO is about empowerment: by measuring and understanding what parameters affect concentrator performance, the site personnel now have the knowledge to make a difference. Rather than simply reporting variable or poor concentrator performance, operations can predict when production will be affected and put controls in place to prevent it from happening. This requires support and commitment from the company or ‘buy in’. Ensuring this buy in continues is the challenge facing every company involved in PIO work – but the benefits are well worth it.

This paper will review MMPT-AP’s experiences in implementing PIO projects in the long term: from both the consulting and operational viewpoints. MMPT-AP’s involvement with a number of companies will be discussed as examples of what works and what does not.