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:: Directors Require More Data on Comminution
“The education of company directors is essential to assist in the acceleration of new comminution strategies for the mining industry” said Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, Managing Director of Gekko Systems. “Many senior people in the industry, especially those without a technical background, are unaware of the significant impact of different grinding and crushing strategies on carbon footprint and operating costs."
Comminution is the most energy intensive and costly component of mining and processing. Figure 1, published by La Nauze and Temos in 2002, and based on WMC data, illustrates the high energy consumption of grinding compared to all other mine activities. Furthermore, it was estimated in the 1980s in the USA that 3%-4% of global electrical energy was consumed by comminution processes (DOE, 1981). New process flowsheet strategies have now been established and include the selection of coarser grind sizes, gangue rejection/pre-concentration (e.g. magnetics, ore sorting, gravity, flotation), and the new application of existing crushing/grinding technologies (e.g. VSI, HPGR).
There is a tendency in mining to design processing plants that have whole ore and/or fine grinding strategies. It is regarded as a risk minimisation strategy. However, the benefits of alternative strategies are generally not fully understood, measured or even evaluated at board level. These include the potential for lower capex, improved opex, smaller footprint and substantial carbon footprint reductions. “There are many organisations and researchers working on this issue but I am keen to raise awareness of its impact at senior management levels to encourage an appropriate level of data collection, resource application and risk benefit analysis to accelerate comminution strategy change," said Ms Lewis-Gray.
La Nauze, R.D. and Temos, J. 2002 ‘Technologies for Sustainable Operations’, Proc. CMMI Congress
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