Optimising Western Australia Magnetite Circuit Design

The development of Western Australian magnetite deposits has lead to the design of some of the largest grinding mills and plants in the world. One of the projects demonstrates the efficiency gains possible by developing a simple yet thorough test program for circuit design. By drawing on the experience of current magnetite operations in Australia and the Mesabi and Marquette iron ranges in the United States, a basic flowsheet was developed. Through comprehensive testwork with AG, ball and stirred milling the flowsheet was optimized to take full advantage of each grinding mill’s strengths to reach the required final grind size. Laboratory work was verified in the pilot plant to optimize the energy efficiency of each grinding step while ensuring adequate liberation at each step for sufficient gangue rejection. By using three stages of grinding, the ball mill can best be employed in ensuring all top size gangue material is liberated and removed in the second magnetic separation step. The inclusion of the IsaMill, with its inherent steep product size distribution, as the tertiary grinding stage ensured that maximum grade was achieved and simplified the downstream process while giving further improvements in total grinding capital and operating costs. In this way the combination of the two technologies downstream from the AG mill is far more efficient than either would be on its own by reducing the total installed power by 1/3 and annual grinding media cost by2/3.