Techno-economic comparison of pre-concentration options for a Ag-Pb-Zn deposit
A conceptual scoping study was conducted to investigate pre-concentration options for upgrading ore from an Ag-Pb-Zn deposit. The low grade of the ore would result in only modest economic returns, given current market conditions.
Several pre-concentration options were considered. These included: selective mining, crushing and pre-screening (following either standard or high intensity selective blasting), bulk ore sorting, particle sorting, jigging, dense medium separation, or combinations of these approaches.
Flowsheets were developed for each option, and the upgrade performance was modelled using Limn to determine mass balances and stream tables. Due to the limited availability of test work data, the models were based not only on what test data was available but also on case study data found in the literature. The Bazin technique was used to derive assay by size data for different streams following crushing. Equipment lists and preliminary layouts were established based on the stream tables, and capital and operating costs were estimated for each flowsheet.
This information was used to carry out a preliminary economic evaluation using net present value and sensitivity analysis. In this case, the most economically attractive process was found to be particle sorting; although further benefits may be realised by combining with bulk sorting.
This paper describes the methodology used and the key findings of the study.