Over the past several years, the combination of higher energy and steel costs and the recent commercial deployment of high-pressure grinding rolls (HPGR) technology in hard rock mining have led many multinational mining companies to evaluate the suitability of HPGR technology for their particular comminution circuits. HPGR technology is perceived to require a higher capital investment while delivering lower long-term operating costs. This paper undertakes a critical evaluation of this perception. By evaluating the capital and life-of-mine operating costs of competing circuit designs for soft, medium and hard ores, the HPGR break-even point can be identified, at which the incremental capital cost of an HPGR circuit is equivalent to the net present value of the projected operating cost reductions. For ores with hardness parameters above the break-even point, HPGR circuits could offer economic benefits, while for softer ores, SAG mill/ball mill/pebble crushing (SABC) circuits are likely to be more economical and energy efficient. This evaluation considers both an SABC reference circuit and a traditional stage crushing configuration. Other influential factors are also discussed.
Paper number MMP-10-018. Original manuscript submitted April 2010. Revised manuscript accepted for publication July 2010. Copyright 2011, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.\
Reproduced with the generous permission of the SME.