Improving profitability, sustainability and the overall operation efficiency from mine to process in Russian operations
The mining industry faces growing challenges from more complex and lower grade deposits, rising costs, limited energy and water availability, and increasing societal pressure to operate more sustainably. Mining operations need to be more efficient, not just to reduce environmental impact, but also to remain economically viable.
To maximize profitability and sustainability, existing operations and new projects must consider integration and optimization of all stages of production. A mining operation is essentially a series of inter-connected processes, with the performance and outputs of each stage affecting the subsequent ones. Optimizing stages in isolation can result in sub-optimal overall performance.
The industry has long recognized the benefits of holistic optimization using the Mine-to-Mill concept, and there are many well documented successes. However, it is increasingly common to observe operations simply increasing explosive consumption in the mine and expecting optimization of the entire value chain (mining and processing). For true holistic optimization, blast intensity is not necessarily increased, but rather adjusted to best suit the requirements of the different types of ores treated, the circuit configuration and equipment, installed comminution power and the downstream beneficiation processes. It is a fully integrated effort with optimization of many aspects in the mine, comminution and separation processes.
To be successful, optimization of the production chain from mine to process requires a site-specific, structured methodology supported by extensive ore characterization, auditing, surveys, data analysis, mathematical modelling simulations and a cost / benefit analysis. Following this methodology, optimization strategies are rapidly identified and implemented considering mine and plant constraints. Management needs to set up appropriate KPIs and site personnel need to be trained for the new operating strategies to be successfully incorporated into site practices and procedures in the production environment. This will ensure the benefits are achieved and maintained. This paper describes the methodology employed by Hatch to improve overall efficiency and profitability from mine to process. Two case study examples at Russian gold operations and benefits achieved are presented.