Ehrig, Liebezeit, Macmillan, Li, Pewkliang, Smith
Presented at the Preconcentration Digital Conference November 2020
Pre-concentration of low grade ores via the rejection of low/no value materials based on fragment size is the subject of many published papers and studies over the past decade. However, the possibility of upgrading should not limited to low grade ores given the high cost of capital, energy, water, reagents, and ultimately tailings storage across the mining industry.
Mining and processing facilities at Olympic Dam consist of an: 1) underground mine where ore is extracted via sublevel open stoping and 2) integrated processing plant located on the surface which produces Cu-cathode, Au-Ag bullion and uranium oxide concentrate. Blasted ore is trucked/trained to underground crushers which produce an ore feed with a product size P80 = -145 mm. Crushed ore is then hoisted to the surface and delivered to the ROM pads via an overland conveyor. The typical copper grade of mill feed is approximately 2 wt%.
A rapid assessment of the potential to upgrade Olympic Dam mill feed prior to the ROM pads via rejection of low value materials based on fragment size was completed using existing data. Three separate datasets were utilised to assess the deportment of Cu, U, Au across size ranges of 200 mm down to sub-8 m. Cumulative grade vs cumulative mass distribution graphs for each element were produced.
This data clearly demonstrates that Cu, U, Au grades remain constant down to ~212 m, which happens to be the liberation size of the sulfides. Hence, no potential to upgrade the ore stream via rejection of +200 mm - to ~212 m sized materials prior to milling. Mineralisation within the Olympic Dam Fe-oxide Cu-U-Au-Ag deposit (IOCG) occurs as disseminated sulfide grains within granite- to hematite-rich breccias. The typical sulfide grain size is sub-200 m that supports the outcomes of the grade deportment by fragment size study.
K Ehrig1, V Liebezeit2, E Macmillan3, Y Li4, B Pewkliang5 and M Smith6
The authors wish to acknowledge BHP Olympic Dam for permission to publish this paper.
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