Automated Minerals Analysis Integration
The TIMA-X automated minerals analysis solution has been designed to be able to be integrated into your production environment. By analysing samples from various points in your workflow, the data produced can be used to optimise discrete processes that ultimately result in greater efficiency, higher recovery rates and increased productivity. The figure below shows how automated mineralogy integration can be implemented.
The TIMA-X can be used for quantification to monitor the overall process and in feedback loops e.g. in process metallurgy operations to optimise individual processes in the overall workflow.
Automated mineralogy on ore from the pit enables stockpiling and blending prior to milling. Deleterious minerals such as acid consumers/gelling minerals can be diluted. Grain size studies indicate how much milling is required to liberated gangue from ore and then what further grinding to liberate ore from gangue. This provides information about the quality of the incoming ore and how much of your target mineral that you can potentially recover. The assessment of incoming ore can also be fed back to geologists to include mineralogy of all minerals in mapping of the pit mining.
Crushing and Grinding
Crushing and grinding, otherwise known as comminution is the most energy intensive process in the entire minerals concentration workflow. Statistics indicate (https://www.eex.gov.au/2013/11/crushing-energy-costs-in-the-mining-sector) that this operation accounts for about 40% of a minerals processing plants’ total consumption and approximately 4% of the global electricity usage. In Australia, energy usage figures could also climb with the overall quality of ores gradually declining with many of the easier to access high grade deposits having already been exploited.
The TIMA-X performs minerals liberation analysis [link to minerals liberatrion analysis page]. In this form of analysis, samples can be analysed before and after crushing and grinding stations. Looking at sample before the comminution station, plant operators can see how target minerals are bound to gangue. More importantly, samples taken after the comminution station can reveal if the target materials have been sufficiently liberated from the gangue.
In an ideal world, a machine should use the minimum amount of energy to achieve its goal, in this case liberation of the target material. Insufficient comminution and the target mineral is still bound to gangue and further crushing or grinding is required. Too much crushing and grinding and target minerals may be lost as fines and unnecessary energy is being consumed.
By quantitative mineralogy of major and minor phases all minerals can be characterized. Often it is the secondary minerals that cause premature activation of the target or incomplete depression of say, pyrite. Understanding the quantitative mineralogy of major and minor phases with particle size analysis and liberation studies allows process to be refined and optimised. In doing so, the operators can maximise recovery, while using optimal amounts of reagents and chemicals.
Similar to crushing and grinding, by adding a feedback loop to the regrind process the liberation of target minerals can be optimised. Again, this reduces energy consumed and while maximises the amount of target mineral that can scavenged.
Along the same lines as the separator or flotation cell, automated mineralogy can be used to optimise scavenger circuits to maximise efficiency and reduce operating costs by analysing input and output materials.
The major and minor phases of concentrate should be quantified to check for deleterious and penalty elements. Prior knowledge of these means that ore can be blended and diluted prior to the concentrate production.
An assay of tailings tells you how much is going to the tailings dams but not why. Automated mineralogy will tell you if your commodity is locked within other minerals indicating a regrind is necessary, or if your commodity is fully or partially liberated indicating flotation conditions need adjusting. Likewise it might show that you element is deported in a secondary mineral that is a minor phase whose chemisty has not been accounted for.
Automated Mineralogy Integration Summary
Automated mineralogy integration can be implemented at existing sites and incorporated into new site designs. Gains from the initial capital investment will be balanced by the efficiency and financial benefits that the system brings. You can also use the Automated Mineralogy Incubator to assess the suitability of TIMA-X for your individual operation as well as for initial set up e.g. establishment of mineral libraries etc.