For years metallurgists have been able to use a simulation package and model their operation to identify bottlenecks in the process, explore potential solutions and recommend changes with a fairly high degree of confidence that the changes will work.
Mining3 is working on a project called GESim, which is developing discrete event-based models for simulating mining operations.
It aims to give better visibility and control over the entire mining process and let miners make better decisions to maximise output.
Another outcome will be the mitigated risk of implementing new mining equipment and methods into the mining process.
There are already discrete event-based software tools that give miners some modelling capability.
Mining3’s argument is that in the past such models have been tailored to specific operations with specific objectives or limited to truck and shovel operations.
GESim is focused on developing a reusable discrete event models for the mining industry.
A key focus for GESim will be to simulate Grade Engineering solutions.
Grade Engineering has been developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction and is aimed at upgrading the ore in or near the pit before it is sent to the plant.
GESim needs to be able to facilitate these types of processes, which introduce a higher level of complexity into the mining operation – for example, adding new sorting or screening technologies into the mining process.
The GESim event models will incorporate material characteristics such as size distribution, mineral grades and grade by size or response factors.
These characteristics will be used in models for processes such as screening, ore sorting and stockpiling.
However, mining is only part of the equation.
Mining3 wants to understand the impact of mine plans and the delivery of ore on the performance of the processing plant.
If a Grade Engineering solution is designed to deliver a certain throughput and quality of ore, in terms of size distribution, grade and contaminants, the aim is to make sure that is achieved consistently.
To do this Mining3 will also be designing and testing a method to interface the mining solution to the Integration Extraction Simulator developed by CRC ORE and the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre.
An interface between a time-based mining simulation and IES will allow users to set up value metrics in EIS and test a number of mining scenarios, letting them forecast potential problems in mine plans.
It will also let users identify the operational levers that will help them maximise the value of the process from blasting through material handling and processing.
The GESim project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.