Solids Sampling at Australian Iron Ore Mine Sites

Additonal authors: Zhang, J.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Vo, A.

Australia is one of the world’s leading exporters of bulk commodities and the extensive use of sampling equipment is key to the successful management of each mining operation. At the process plant, without a full understanding of the feed, product and tails, it is impossible to fully optimise the performance of the plant, such that the metallurgical balance is often open to error. At the port, a statistically correct, bias free and compliant sampling system is crucial to ensuring exported minerals are reflective of their true value and to avoid penalties. Over the last decade, as a result of the iron ore boom, there has been high demand for reliable, representative and standard compliant solids sample systems in Australia. This paper reviews several solids sampling applications at Australian mine sites, the challenges and experience gained and how the implementation of reliable representative sampling systems has provided better understanding of plant process performance, improved plant control and overall benefits to the operations. INTRODUCTION Mining is the primary contributor to the Australian economy with Australia ranking in the top 4 in economic resources for 21 primary industrial minerals in 2016 (Britt, et al., 2017). Australia is one of the world leaders in the export of the majority of its commodities including gold, copper and iron ore (Britt, et al., 2017). Therefore, a suitable and standard compliant sampling system is essential for evaluating plant performance and content verification. At the mine and at the port, the larger iron ore miners in Australia have developed stockpile models to predict the grade of their ore down to individual blocks of the stockpile. This allows the miner to create the right blend of material for sale to their customers and ensures they are not underselling their product or at risk of penalties for impurities or low grade. As an example, the average difference between the benchmark 62% Fe and low grade 58% Fe fines at the time of this report averaged US $20/tonne according to the Metal Bulletin Iron Ore Index (Fastmarkets MB, 2019). At a shipload of 180kt this would be a variation of US $3.6M. Whilst this is an extreme example, it highlights the economic importance of producing the correct grade product and a recognised representative sample of said product.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019