The Impact of Classification on the Energy Efficiency of Grinding Circuits – The Hidden Opportunity

Mill Operators2012

A growing demand within the minerals industry for sustainable development and the introduction of carbon taxes have resulted in a significant focus on improving the energy efficiency of comminution circuits. However, in this drive for improved energy efficiency the role of classification has been overlooked. Inefficient classification and large recirculating loads reduce circuit capacity, result in over-grinding and higher specific energy consumption.

It is well understood that classification increases mill capacity; therefore, closed ball mill-cyclone circuits have become an industry standard. However, due to limitations in cyclone classification efficiency, the optimum recirculating load is limited to about 250 per cent. A simple relationship quantifying the effect of classification efficiency and recirculating load on grinding circuit capacity is presented in this paper. The possibility of improving the capacity of ball mill circuits by improving classification efficiency is discussed, considering the current practical limitations of classification equipment. Simulation tools were used to evaluate circuits with cyclones and with high frequency screens to identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency. The investigation also identified potential benefits to flotation recovery due to a reduction in over-grinding.

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