Laboratory tests are crucial to characterize the mineral to be processed, in order to identify early opportunities for improvement and possible technical challenges, such as the presence of clays, complex gangues, changes in the grade, mineralogy, hardness, liberation, etc. The early detection of these problems allows the definition of processing strategies, reduces operational risk and technical-economic uncertainty, and generates opportunities for continuous improvement with the consequent increase in the value of the project. The technical and scientific literature shows many examples where complete projects have failed due to poor mineral characterization, which has resulted in serious design and operation problems. Some examples include:
- Non-representative samples determined a much harder mineral than the real one, so the mineral tended to be over-ground.
- Chemical and mineralogical analyzes of a copper mine did not include the identification of fluorite. By going through a bioleaching process, the fluorite-rich mineral killed the bacteria.
- Many plants were designed around composites of an “average” ore, without considering variability and extreme values in terms of hardness, grade, and so on. Then, every time a mineral of extreme values passed through the plant (higher hardness, lower grade, etc.), the treatment capacity and metallurgical results fell for weeks.
Problems such as the above can be prevented by conducting quality geometallurgical campaigns. This requires representative tests, variability analysis and statistically robust studies, but also requires a team of specialist engineers who interpret these results and can provide timely technical recommendations.
At Aminpro we have vast experience in planning, conducting and interpreting metallurgical campaigns. We carry out crushing, grinding, flotation, leaching and tailings deposition tests, both on a laboratory and pilot scale. If you require more information about our work, do not hesitate to contact us.
- Runge, Kym. ‘Laboratory Flotation Testing – An Essential Tool for Ore Characterisation’. In Flotation Plant Optimisation – A Metallurgical Guide to Identifying and Solving Problems in Flotation Plants, 19. Carlton, VIC: AusIMM: Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2010.
- Connely, Damian. ‘It Might Have Been Different But’. Linkedin, 11 March 2016. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/might-have-been-different-damian-connelly/.
- Dominy, Simon, Louisa O’Connor, Anita Parbhakar-Fox, Hylke Glass, and Saranchimeg Purevgerel. ‘Geometallurgy—A Route to More Resilient Mine Operations’. Minerals 8, no. 12 (1 December 2018): 560. https://doi.org/10.3390/min8120560.
- Dominy, Simon, Louisa O’Connor, Hylke Glass, Saranchimeg Purevgerel, and Yuling Xie. ‘Towards Representative Metallurgical Sampling and Gold Recovery Testwork Programmes’. Minerals 8, no. 5 (4 May 2018): 193. https://doi.org/10.3390/min8050193