Comminution and Metallurgical Testwork Program Approach for Successful Project Design

9 May, 2016 | White paper

Jorge Torrealba, P.Eng. Ph. D.

Director, Business Line – Mining optimization

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Each mineral processing project requires early testwork to evaluate the economic potential of a deposit. The testwork needs to be efficient and it should provide enough information to obtain key parameters, first for a high level flowsheet selection at the conceptual and PEA stages and then, for later stages, to confirm the flowsheet selection and optimize the metallurgical efficiency of the plant. The testwork should consider all rock types or lithologies present and carry out testwork for the purpose of sizing the major processing equipment.

A successful project requires that the project stakeholders develop an efficient sample collection program to produce enough material for a scoping and pre-feasibility level program. This involves the participation of a team of geologists, and mining and metallurgical engineers in the project, as early as possible, to define the deposit characteristics that need to be validated. The project schedule requires a close control of the testwork scope, procedures and timing, but also the efficient analysis of results to provide indications of red flags that could impact circuit design as early as possible.

In some cases, projects are put on hold due to fluctuations of the world economy until the return of more favorable conditions. In that scenario, prior data analysis of former testwork results could reduce significantly the amount of testwork required to restart a project. The paper will also present examples where the analysis of former testwork data was used to reduce the amount of new testwork in addition to presenting examples of latest projects where the above mentioned test program approach was followed.

Note that this white paper was written in collaboration with Seref Girgin, Ricardo Esteban and David Runnels from the BBA team. It was the subject of a presentation at the IMPC 2016: XXVIII International Mineral Processing Congress Proceedings.

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