A new method for energy benchmarking of mineral comminution


Energy benchmarking is widely applied across industries to determine the potential to improve energy performance. Unlike the many technologies for which energy benchmarks and efficiency rating systems are already in maturity, benchmarking of mining processes is still in its infancy. Benchmarking energy usage in mining operations, where energy costs are high and represent a significant portion of overall operating expenses, is challenging due to the uniqueness of each mining operation. Mines vary in terms of geology, geographic setting, ore body geometry, mineralogy which impact the mining method, material handling, processing and waste management.

In order to gauge the opportunity for reducing the energy intensity of individual operations and also to compare the energy performance of operations on a global scale, the deployment of new benchmarking methodologies, models and frameworks is necessary. As a step towards the establishment of an accurate framework for benchmarking the energy consumption of mining operations, comminution, one of the more energy intensive mining sub-processes, was selected as the focus of a new energy benchmarking method.

The methodologies and processes used to onset fragmentation in a rock mass to the crushing or grinding of rock to a size that is suitable for economic extraction are predominantly dependent on the ore properties. For this reason, site specific factors, such as the size reduction requirements and ore hardness were included in an energy benchmark model so that the energy performance of comminution processes at different operations could be normalized and compared on a global scale. Single particle compression breakage has been identified by several prominent researchers in the field of comminution as the upper limit of energy utilization in size reduction processes. For this reason single particle compression breakage was proposed as the basis of a work index for ores to be used as an input for the benchmark model. Overall, the new method showed that the energy benchmark for mineral comminution can be normalized and subsequently compared for a range of mining operations once the ore hardness has been appropriately characterized.

23rd World Mining Congress 2013 Proceedings, ISBN: 978-1-926872-15-5