The development of process mineralogy at Falconbridge Limited and application to the Raglan Mill
Assessment of opportunities to improve mineral processing performance in existing concentrators and in describing undeveloped orebodies is key to improving the business case of a mining company. This assessment has traditionally been performed using the distinct and separate inputs from mineral processing and mineral science. More recently, process mineralogy has been used to integrate these two disciplines. This trend has been driven by the need to develop and process more challenging ore deposits, and has been assisted by the availability of modern automated instruments. Together with the acquisition of a QemSCAN (quantitative evaluation of materials by scanning electron microscope) from CSIRO in Australia, and with the use of a supporting SEM with EDX/WDX capabilities and an XRD, the development of process mineralogy at Falconbridge commenced in 1997.
The sampling challenges in presenting a QemSCAN with representative sample material at the polished section level are significant, but have been effectively addressed. The full description of this aspect is beyond the scope of this paper. It is shown that, by use of this approach, the set nature of an orebody can be best exploited with selected flowsheet changes in a concentrator which address the generic characteristics of the orebody. In this way, the flowsheet provides a process that more effectively fits the mineral processing requirements of the ore. This leads to clear and tangible improvements in grade and recovery.