Comparing Ball and Vertical Mills Performance: An industrial case study

The search for energy efficient technologies for comminution processes is constant in mineral processing studies, since those processes represent a major percentage of operational costs. In this context the sue of stirred mills is increasing, especially for ultrafine grinding. Although many authors claim that these new equipment are more efficient than the conventional ball mills, there were very little chances to prove that in a practical way, since there are few industrial circuits where those technologies perform the same duty. Therefore, the regrinding circuit of Germano second concentrator offers an interesting opportunity: a vertical mill operating in parallel with tow ball mills.

During almost two years of operation, several sampling campaigns were conducted to evaluate the vertical mill performance and to compare the operational data of the three mills. The industrial data was also compared to jar mill tests results, which are monthly conducted in Samarco labs in order to predict the specific energy consumption required by the ore fed to these circuits. The vertical mill demonstrated the same ability to achieve the  product specifications of the ball mills while proved to be able to reduce the medium specific energy consumption in about 40%.