The Future Shape of Mineral Processing
The pressures on mine operators are varied and constantly increasing, declining ore grades, more remote locations and increasing environmental concerns. The challenge facing the mining industry is to find new ways to process ores which are more efficient and less costly and to control them better. This requires a fundamental rethink in the way in which projects are developed, it is no longer good enough to just copy what has been done before. The process starts with the surfacing of the primary underlying constraints for the project and the establishment of new design principles to address these. The generation of new design criteria and processing options follows the well-established path of brainstorm, focus, brainstorm, refocus and economic evaluation. The aim is process intensification, doing more with less, as early as possible and better use of plant data. The methodology requires a complete geometallurgical understanding of the orebody to facilitate the evaluation of viable processing options. Examples of early stage processing considered are blast optimization and ore sorting to reject waste and reduce processing costs. Mine to mill integration, which starts with the optimization of blasting for separation, offers another way to significantly reduce operating costs and increase efficiencies.