CRC ORE research delivers Preconcentration improvements
The Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction has now entered its final year but is far from slowing down. Instead, CRC ORE is accelerating research, development, and deployment of signature innovations - Grade Engineering® and the Integrated Extraction Simulator.
CRC ORE developed its Grade Engineering solution to assist mines efficiently separate valuable minerals from non-valuable waste material. It is also now possible to more efficiently treat low grade mineralised waste stockpiles to extract valuable minerals. This can significantly increase the life of mines and reduce their environmental footprint.
Enhancing use of Grade Engineering technology
A key focus of CRC ORE's research efforts is enhancing the Grade Engineering response within its suite of blast design and comminution design projects.
CRC ORE General Manager of Research and Innovation Paul Revell said the Centre is researching ways to introduce selectivity into those processes.
"This means we fragment the valuable components, and minimise the fragmentation of the barren material to the extent possible," Mr Revell said.
"Once Grade Engineering has been implemented, we have the result of magnifying the response, because ore has now been optimised for Grade Engineered preconcentration."
Reducing costs of processing
Grade Engineering aims to preconcentrate ore, which means the processing plant has less hard barren gangue material to grind, dewater and place in the tailings dam.
Mr Revell said associated with these preconcentration benefits, there are significant savings in energy, water and emissions, which reflect in reduced operating costs for the mine.
"There are direct sustainability benefits, because by reducing the cost per tonne of ore the mine can lower their cut-off grade," Mr Revell said.
"This means more of the orebody can be mined and processed with the same infrastructure."
"This has big benefits to the life of asset value and from a sustainability angle. The global production of metals can be enhanced without increasing the amount of ground disturbance."
Faster, cheaper, easier Density Separation
Traditional opportunity assessment for Density Separation requires physical testing of drill core on laboratory density equipment. Because these technologies are applied to coarse particle sizes (10mm - 100mm) very large sample sizes (thousands of kilograms) are requires in order to gain a representative ore sample. Mr Revell explained that this makes the process slow and expensive.
"We are developing a new ore amenability characterisation system based on statistical examination of the density distribution within a sub-sample of material," he said.
"The aim is to make it faster, easier and cheaper to develop value propositions for using Density Separation to preconcentrate."
"This approach can be embedded into the Integrated Extraction Simulator once it is fully developed and validated, allowing the process response to be quantified."
Creating technology to capture value
CRC ORE is also currently developing new sensor technology that enables real time measurement of minerals.
"Sensor technology will drive preconcentration technologies, allowing them to react dynamically to the variability in the ore body," Mr Revell said.
For more information on CRC ORE, visit their website: crcore.org.au.