GEOMETALLURGY: AN UNDERUTILISED TECHNOLOGY

World Mining Congress
Mining companies are progressively finding themselves having to develop operations for more complex, deeper ore bodies, which require the use of more complicated mining and mineral processing methods. This coupled with the generally increasing trend of higher capital and operational costs have led to a need in the industry for improving ore body knowledge, mining and mineral processing. Geometallurgy is a relatively new concept that can link the three aspects, and when used effectively it is a method that can produce the necessary information for designing and building operations for reliable and optimum performance. Geometallurgy not only involves the integration of geological, mining, and metallurgical fields, but it can also be expanded to include environmental and economic information to produce a block model that can be used to obtain the best outcome in terms of plant response and plant sustainability. The geometallurgical program should not end once the block model has been populated. A detailed geometallurgical approach should be applied to all stages of the operation encompassing sample selection, through to equipment sizing and production forecasting. It can also become a useful optimisation tool thereby allowing the operation to be proactive rather than reactive against changes in the ore characteristics. With the development of metallurgical performance predictors it is possible to quantify how the ore will behave in the process plant in terms of throughput, recoveries, reagent consumption, etc. Therefore, in terms of responsible mining and sustainable resource development, a geometallurgical approach to operations is the logical step for plant development. In this paper we describe the state of the technology with respect to the application of geometallurgical modeling and its utilisation in the fields of design, forecasting and optimisation of mining operations.
Keywords: Model; Models; geometallurgy; Ores; Ore; STEPS; mining; Processes;
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