October 2015

Editor's letter

Control is key

By Ryan Bergen

Ryan BergenThanks to the steady and strong support from the people at McEwen Mining, earlier this year we created a video series of the “Innovation Lunch & Learns” that the company hosts at its Toronto office every few months. The presentations range from discussions on how and where step changes could potentially re-orient the mining industry to ideas for process improvements that can boost recovery rates by a few percentages.

And, while these YouTube videos will never go viral, that a presentation on process optimization and froth flotation monitoring has garnered more than 1,000 views from people around the world suggests the media experiment has been worthwhile.

“If you have a poor measurement, or no measurement, you can’t do good control,” argues Philip Thwaites of XPS Consulting & Testwork Services in our technology piece on process monitoring, in which Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco details the technological advances that allow that measurement and control. It is a message that runs throughout this issue. The poor results that can come with too little information was among the hard lessons the operations team at Palabora Copper learned when it transitioned from an open-pit to a block cave mine. Now wiser, the company is applying those lessons to the work on the second block cave it is currently developing, including a much more comprehensive cave monitoring system. Michael Yang profiles that project here. In the same vein, our feature story by Ian Ewing zeroes in on the growing capabilities of ore sorting tools that can limit the time and energy lost when what should be waste rock is milled. In all of these instances, measurements provide control.

Although we made the decision to focus on mineral processing and process monitoring in this issue months before we posted the video, the viewing data told us that we were on the right track. We know how people found the video, where they watched it, if and how they shared it and how long on average they watched. With this information and some finessing, we can fine-tune how we roll out and promote these videos in the future. In effect, it is our own foray into process monitoring.

Ryan Bergen

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