Improving comminution circuits

GLOBAL operating load measurement guidelines and a new data system for highlighting comminution energy costs could drive best practice in mineral processing, the Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution (CEEC) says.
Improving comminution circuits Improving comminution circuits Improving comminution circuits Improving comminution circuits Improving comminution circuits

CEEC endorsed global operating load measurement guidelines and a new data system for highlighting comminution costs.

Marion Lopez

Both innovations emerged at one of CEEC’s workshops in Vancouver in November, where industry leaders met to discuss best practice, energy efficiency opportunities and innovation in the mining industry.

The introduction of global guidelines for standardised measurement of operating loads was suggested by the Global Mining Standards and Guidelines Group (GMSG), to help mining professionals assess opportunities for improvement within their comminution circuits.

The guidelines are in the first draft stage and will aim to reduce both unit operating costs and unit energy consumption, by applying best practice comminution circuit analysis techniques/methods.

“As mining companies increasingly focus on cost reduction and energy efficiency improvements within a challenging operating environment, it is of substantial value to focus on the costs and energy efficiencies associated with comminution circuits; it is crucial to the industry to have  on hand specific tools available to help meet those objectives,” GMSG said.

CEEC also endorsed the work by Dr Grant Ballantyne at the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre in Queensland, which provides valuable surveying data of comminution energy requirements of gold and copper producing mines.

CEEC said Ballantyne’s work could provide reliable benchmarking data for industry players to optimise their operations.

“This data can be used to compare comminution energy consumption across different mine sites,” CEEC said.

“The comminution energy per unit metal product is presented in a graphical form similar to a cost curve.

“This simple technique allows individual mines to assess their current operational energy consumption against their peers.”

Anonymity of the comprehensive, mine-specific data is guaranteed and site to site variability is visualised by constructing an energy curve. The energy curve displays the potential energy savings and cost benefits of moving down the cost curve into more cost-efficient operating regimes.

“This approach also allows flexibility in the way comminution energy intensity is displayed (e.g. energy per rock milled or metal produced) thus providing a direct comparison between sites,” CEEC added.

“The easily recognisable curve format can be used to visualise the variability in energy intensity across the industry.”

Other applications of energy curves as suggested by CEEC include:

  • The position mapping of the mine as production progresses with year-on-year analysis
  • Circuit design proposals can be compared to current operational strategies to assess their benefits
  • Operational efficiency improvements can be mapped to the curve to visually assess the magnitude of energy efficiency gains per unit achievable through various strategies
  • The efficiency with which the various comminution devices achieve size reduction can be mapped to identify opportunities for improvement and the magnitude of achievable gains.

CEEC will host this unique energy curve program on its website and provide complementary access for operators to encourage industry to take up this service.

“The CEEC board foresee the positive impact this program will have on driving best practice in comminution, achieving improved outcomes for shareholders, mining companies and communities,” CEEC said.

The program will be launched shortly.