Ore Concentrating Effectiveness


This example illustrates the application of sophisticated modelling methods to uncover "hidden" operating rules in a surface ore treatment plant on a mine.


Most mines selling metal bearing ore have a processing plant on site that is responsible for "concentrating" the ore from a very low grade, as it comes from the ground, into a much higher grade "concentrate" that allows it be transported and sold, cost effectively. This plant is normally called a concentrator. 


A key measure of how effectively a concentrator is being run is the percentage of metal that is recovered from the ore and delivered into the saleable concentrate. The remainder enters the "waste" stream and is not converted into revenue. For mines operating on tight margins, even a 1% change in concentator recovery can have a significant change in mine profitability.


Quantalytic was engaged by a large copper mining operation in NSW, Australia to quantify the main factors that were driving the concentrate recovery and to assist in working out how to improve the recovery. After an exhaustive study, using multivariate statistical methods, we found that there were a number of key operating practices that were preventing the current concentrator from operating at its full potential. These practices, when considered together, could improve recovery at the concentrator by as much as 4% per annum, if the procedures were changed. This was very substantial in terms of mine profitability. Most significantly, the recommendations didn't include any substantial changes to plant infrastructure, only to standard operating practice. As part of rolling out the improved processes, we developed a simple to use, intra-shift planning tool that was to be used by the plant operators to assist them in optimising their decision making processes.


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