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MEI Online: General Minerals Engineering: Latest News: November 20th 2012


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:: Engineering Grade Key to Transforming Resource Extraction

Advanced pre-concentration techniques to increase the yield of mineral ores such as gold and copper show potential to transform the economics of large, low grade mining operations.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE) announced Grade EngineeringTM, the latest development in selective mass processing techniques, at their Annual Assembly yesterday in Brisbane, Australia. “Conventional resource modelling, planning and evaluation averages away the extraction opportunities," says CEO of CRC ORE, Professor Alan Bye. “We need to embrace the mind-set that variability drives opportunity."


By upgrading and separating ore from waste at each stage of the mining process CRC ORE has demonstrated that the cumulative effect of Grade EngineeringTM techniques such as selective blasting and coarse liberation has the potential to increase head grade two-fold.

Professor Bye points to Grade EngineeringTM solutions as an opportunity to address the challenges of declining ore grades and rising costs. “A flexible mining operation that can selectively upgrade ore bodies and harness ore variability will be a competitive advantage to mining companies."

Blasting, screening and stockpiling provide an opportunity for upgrading ore prior to mineral processing, significantly increasing the metal yield


Using an innovative approach to the problem of declining grade, Grade EngineeringTM techniques are leveraging knowledge of geotechnical and geometallurgical properties to identify and model pockets of high grade material in the fabric of the ore.

This information then informs the use of techniques such as selective blasting, which targets high grade ore and reduces it to a specified size. Mining proceeds at the high rate demanded by the mining schedule, but the high grade pocket can now be separated from the main ore stream by using a simple screen.

The resulting higher grade screened ore stream can then be fed to the concentrator for recovery at substantially lower energy requirements, while the lower grade top size stream can be processed using more suitable techniques such as leaching.

The technologies are already being trialled at mine sites around the world by CRC ORE partners Newcrest Mining, Anglo American and BHP Billiton.




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