Circuits with unconventional and potentially more complex designs are predicted to become more common in the future as plant designers and operators look to process ores more efficiently. Ideas have been presented on how circuit design may be changed to utilise today’s technology to address tomorrow’s challenges (Powell and Bye, 2009; Powell, Benzer and Mainza, 2011a). High pressure grinding roll (HPGR) installations in various configurations; application of pre-concentration plants eg sorting, magnetic or gravity separation; and pre-weakening devices eg microwave processing; are all examples of technologies having the potential to deliver a significant reduction in comminution energy for ores amenable to these processes. Not only will future novel circuits contain equipment for which models are not as well developed (if at all), many will likely require the ability to respond to variations in feed, and interact with geometallurgical models requiring process adjustments when the ore characteristics change.
In order to confidently simulate more complex circuits and accommodate variations in feed type, a significant advancement in modelling and simulation capability is required. This includes dealing with multiple components in the feed, accommodating different competencies of ore, utilising physical separation opportunities and tracking the grade reporting along the different potential processing routes. Developing the means to simulate complex circuits has been a key priority of a collaborative group of comminution researchers working to solve these challenges.
Simulations are presented utilising a new configurable simulation interface called the model developers kit (MDK). The MDK is designed to accommodate multi-components and incorporate new models under development. These will be used to demonstrate the potential of flexible circuit design, based on measured ore properties and equipment performance.