Assessing Vertimill Ultrafine Grinding Performance: The Gibraltar Mine Case

Taseko Mines Limited Gibraltar copper-molybdenum mine recommenced operation in 2004 with the initiation of a series of development projects to increase throughput capacity as well as modernize the mine.

In the second staged development project, a VTM- 1250-WB regrind mill was selected to replace the existing conventional ball regrind mill to achieve a target grind size of 80 % passing 45 µm. In the third staged development project, a second VTM-1250 regrind mill was selected for installation in Concentrator #2, to match the existing Concentrator

#1 Vertimill. This resulted in approximately 25% spare regrind capacity in the Concentrator #2 design, complete spare parts interchangeability and potential future expansion capacity to 50,000 t/d with no circuit upgrades.

In this context, a study was initiated to assess not only the performance of a Vertimill grinding circuit processing a copper concentrate to a particle size of 80% passing 17 µm but also to provide Taseko’s New Prosperity project specific design information for grinding to particle sizes below 80 % passing 25 µm.

The objective of the work described in this presentation was to explore Vertimill ultrafine (sub 100 µm) grinding test methodologies at both the lab and pilot scales, compare the scale-up data with operational data from the VTM1250 at Gibraltar Mines and subsequently apply this information to particle sizes down to 80% passing 17 µm. The presentation will describe the results obtained preceded by a description of the Gibraltar regrind circuit historical operation and operational performance as well as a description of the Vertimill technology.