Using Real Time Elemental Analysis of Conveyed Ore Flows to Improve Copper Processing
Additonal authors: . 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
Real time analysis of ore quality between the mine and mill provides major benefits to copper mining and processing operations. Prompt gamma neutron activation analysis (PGNAA) is a proven technique that has been successfully applied for real time conveyed flow multi-elemental measurement. The advantage of PGNAA is that it measures through the full conveyed cross section continuously and provides representative element measurement without the need to constantly sample coarse (primary crushed) conveyed flows. High specification PGNAA analyzers enable accurate measurement over time increments as short as thirty seconds. Elements such as copper can be measured to a precision of 0.02% copper which is sufficient for high confidence in decisions for bulk flow diversion. Increments of eight tonnes are being diverted through a bulk ore sorting application to remove batches of waste from mill feed as well as divert material to different stockpiles based on ore quality. Longer measurement increments of two to five minutes are suitable for blending control of ores to reduce feed quality variability and to control average ore quality within a target range. Feed blends can be adjusted as frequently as required but typically multiple measurement increments are composited to produce a rolling average ore quality. The paper details two case studies where analyzers have been successfully used to measure conveyed flows for blending and bulk diversion applications. The real time measurements of ore composition are also used for ore reconciliation, in metal accounting and providing process operators with advance warning of ore quality changes that may affect grinding performance and cause process upsets. Real time ore quality measurement has proven beneficial in improving copper processing performance through better utilising plant capacity in a leaching operation, optimising ore feed quality, and reducing unnecessary processing of waste.
Representative real time elemental analysis of conveyed ore quality using fully penetrative technologies has been available to the minerals industry since the 1990s. The Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis (PGNAA) technique was developed into a conveyed material analyser and soon adopted by the cement and coal industries which recognised the benefits in real time quality management. These commodities were ideally suited to this measurement technique as operations generally involved conveying bulk material prior to processing. Measured quality was used to divert material to different destinations or used to control blending for improved quality consistency. Uptake in the minerals industry, however, has been slow until the last ten years, and particularly until the mid-2010s.
Copper 2019, COM2019