Process Optimisation Using Real-time Tracking of Coarse Material in Individual Cyclone Overflow Streams


The purpose of a mineral comminution circuit with a ball mill running in closed-loop with a hydrocyclone classification cluster is to feed the downstream process with the target particle size. Maintaining the optimal particle size in the flotation feed can significantly improve plant cash flow. In particular, reducing the amount of coarse material is often a major challenge. Existing instrumentation to provide particle size measurement is considered standard equipment in most modern concentrator plants. However, availability is often very low, mainly owing to high maintenance requirements of the analyser and associated sampling system.

CiDRA Minerals Processing has developed two novel and robust technologies that address this challenge by providing high reliability and very low maintenance systems for on-line measurement of coarse material in the overflow of individual hydrocyclones. The first system is non-invasive and measures pebbles and rocks greater than 6 mm. This paper focuses on the second system, which is a ruggedized wetted sensor design with no moving parts and provides a real-time trend of the desired target grind size parameter, such as percentage above 150 micron.

Both systems have simple robust designs and measure in the primary overflow stream of the individual hydrocyclone. Individual hydrocyclone measurement enables identification of poor performing hydrocyclones in addition to providing a representative measurement of the whole hydrocyclone cluster. The systems do not require sampling and associated sample transfer piping circuits that are prone to plugging, thus avoiding high maintenance requirements.

The wetted sensor will be described in detail along with its implementation in a robust control scheme in a major copper concentrator in North America. Plant data shows very high availability, achieved with very low maintenance, has enabled improved process control, thereby maintaining throughput and ball mill target power while reducing grind size.

The presentation may be downloaded here.


Cirulis, D, Dunford, S, Snyder, J, Bartsch, E, Rothman, P, Maron, R, Newton, D, O’Keefe, C and Mercuri, J, 2015. Process optimisation using real-time tracking of coarse material in individual cyclone overflow streams, in Proceedings MetPlant 2015, pp 93–109 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).