Fine Grinding Circuit Process Improvement at the Karara Mine Concentrator
Authors: S Palaniandy, M Spagnolo, R Halomoan, H Zhou and H Ishikawa
MetPlant 2017 – Metallurgical Plant Design and Operating Strategies – World’s Best Practice, 11-12 Sep 2017, Perth, Australia
The Karara Mine concentrator commenced operation in November 2012 to produce high-grade magnetite concentrate. The circuit consists of three stages of comminution plus magnetic separation at each stage for early gangue rejection. High-Pressure Grinding Rolls (HPGRs) are used for fine crushing, followed by ball mills and TowerMills in secondary and fine grinding duties respectively. In recent times, the plant throughput rate has had to exceed design by 18% to maintain the targeted concentrate productivity. Meanwhile, the ore hardness has increased by 25% to 15 kWh/t, leading to changes in the circuit operation and design. These changes led to coarser and harder feed to the TowerMill circuit that affects the subsequent separation processes. Nippon Eirich (the TowerMill manufacturer) has partnered with Karara Mining Limited (Karara) to optimise the TowerMill circuit operation to achieve a circuit product with an 80% passing (P80) of 35 µm. Several activities, including a TowerMill circuit audit and performance evaluation, multi-component analysis, modelling and simulation, were carried out as part of the optimisation exercise. The circuit audit results revealed that the TowerMill circuit feed size F80 had increased and ranged from 67–75 µm. The circuit product P80 ranged between 42–55 µm. The average circuit specific energy was 3.4 kWh/t. Moreover, the differences in density between magnetite and gangue minerals had affected the hydrocyclone performance where the efficiency curve exhibits coarse end deflection indicating that low-density coarse material was bypassing to the overflow stream. A multi-component analysis was carried out to further investigate the coarse end deflection of the hydrocyclone efficiency curve. The analysis showed that the magnetite and gangue minerals had different cut sizes of 32 and 64 µm respectively. Furthermore, 33% of the magnetite (below 35 µm) was being recycled back to the mill due to the density effect. Based on these findings, several recommendations for process improvement were identified and implemented including:
- converting to a bottom feeding configuration to improve the grinding efficiency in the mill
- additional grinding power in the fine grinding duty to compensate for the increase in plant throughput and ore hardness
- improved classification efficiency by converting to smaller size hydrocyclones.
Simulation studies carried out to evaluate the impact of these implementations had indicated that a P80 close to 35 µm with a steeper size distribution could be achieved by using the bottom feed configuration with additional grinding power. The TowerMill circuit was converted to bottom feed configuration and the performance was evaluated. The operating work index, size specific energy and circulating load were 30% lower than the top feed configuration, indicating that the bottom feed configuration had a higher grinding efficiency. This paper discusses the outcome of the circuit audit, multicomponent analysis, circuit simulations, improvement strategies and quantification of the improvements.
S Palaniandy (1), M Spagnolo (2), R Halomoan (3), H Zhou (4) and H Ishikawa (5)
(1) – MAusIMM, Process Manager, Nippon Eirich, Unit 4, 119 Gardens Drive, Willawong Qld 4110. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(2) – MAusIMM, Metallurgy Manager, Karara Mining Limited, Karara Mining Limited, PO Box 118, Perenjori WA 6620. Email: email@example.com
(3) – Senior Metallurgist, Karara Mining Limited, Karara Mining Limited, PO Box 118, Perenjori WA 6620. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(4) – General Manager – Operational Excellence, Karara Mining Limited, Karara Mining Limited, PO Box 118, Perenjori WA 6620. Email: email@example.com
(5) – General Manager, Grinding Technology Unit, Nippon Eirich, Gojinsha Meieki 3 Bldg, 3-9-37 Meieki, Nishi-ku, Nagoya, Aichi 451-0045, Japan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact the authors for further details of this paper.
CEEC acknowledges and thanks the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and MetPlant convenors and organising committee for organising the MetPlant 2017 Conference.
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