Dehkhoda, Salaya, Kwak, Keeney
Presented at the Preconcentration Digital Conference November 2020
In addition to volatile commodity prices influencing decision making, in recent years, social and environmental performance have become important decision drivers within the mining industry. There are increased demands from stakeholders, communities, and governments to ensure that raw materials are mined, processed and refined responsibly. The industry also faces the challenge of better managing its waste, which has led to severe consequences when not done properly.
The high commodity prices of the late 90s and early 2000s encouraged larger economies of scale and drove mining companies to extract large volumes of rock for separation and concentration at the downstream processes. Over time, as ore grades dropped, the cost of mining escalated and tailings volumes grew. This arduous process also caused strains on recovery cost and performance. Scarcity of water and energy resources coupled with increased production demands and higher operating costs are putting pressure on companies to find innovative ways to increase mining intensities.
Hatch’s value chain optimisation methodologies, specifically Grade Engineering® and early waste rejection of the mine, have been of interest to intensify operational performance and minimise waste generation. Enabling preconcentration of the plant throughput, the methodology has significant potential to improve overall metal production and reduce water and energy intensities, whilst minimising wet tailings.
Using representative data from real world mines, this paper reports on a case study that evaluates the impact of preconcentration using sensor-based ore sorting on downstream process improvements as well as energy, water and tailings reduction. Financial and economic viability of this technique is presented for both brownfield and greenfield implementation cases.
The results show that business case for preconcentration is best when: the distribution of metal in the run of mine ore is negatively skewed and left tailed; mining costs are low; energy, water and tailings management costs are high; and low cost methods of recovering pay metal from low grade material are available.
S Dehkhoda1, J Salaya2, J Kwak3 and L Keeney4
The authors would like to thank Lachlan Wright of Hatch for his contributions to this study.
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