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MEI Online: General Minerals Engineering: Conference Reports: Metallurgical Plant Design and Operating Strategies


Metallurgical Plant Design and Operating Strategies
Sydney, Australia, April 15-16, 2002

The conference, organised by the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, developed a theme initiated by the Australian Mineral Foundation (now closed) in 1998, to provide a forum for the designers and operators of metallurgical plant to discuss best practice in plant design and strategies to optimise plant operations. Authors and delegates included design engineers from international and Australian companies, equipment suppliers, consultants and providers of software and services, planning engineers, managers and operations metallurgists from mining companies.

Keynote papers set the scene for a very topical conference. Pat ODwyer (Egis Consulting) discussed the requirements for whole of life plant design, drawing some analogies between the phases of the facility and the skills required, and the life stages of human development. Jim Graham (Heathgate Resources) brought an international perspective to the start-up of the worlds largest ISL uranium mine at Beverley.

Robin Batterham (Chief Scientist, Commonwealth of Australia) addressed the question Metallurgical plant - Have we run out of developments? He resoundingly concluded No! Peter McCarthy (Australian Mining Consultants) took a holistic overview of a hypothetical new operation, and considered the proposed scale of mining, cutoff grades and return on investment in a paper titled Setting Plant Capacity. This approach was further developed by Hans Umlauff (Newmont Mining) in his keynote address The Real Goal of Project Development is Building Businesses, Not Projects.

Technical sessions were focused on Comminution, Plant Design, Design and Operations, Hydrometallurgy, Pyrometallurgy and Refining. The papers described design approaches and case studies, new technologies and processes, new control strategies, design improvements, planning and modelling.

Papers which expanded on design included an overview of SAG milling in Australia, the use of test work to design SAG mills, design of very large mills, design of high intensity furnaces and design of off gas systems, design of flotation systems and use of reliability modelling to confirm plant design capacity. Several papers discussed design of new plants, including gold, uranium and platinum group metals recovery.

A number of papers discussed plant and process design improvements, in gold, nickel, copper and iron ore operations. Some papers were more general, focusing on statistical tools for plant control, better use of chemistry in solving problems, and sampling and monitoring.

In a less obvious but very important aspect of plant design and operating strategies, a case study of the changing shift management practice in a Fly In Fly Out operation showed very positive benefits on factors including operator fatigue and morale, maintenance, training and productivity.

The papers in the conference described examples from a very wide range of metallurgical plants, a non- complete list includes Mt Isa, Mt Newman, Kundana Gold, St Ives, Mt Keith, Roseberry, Queensland Nickel, Beverley, Honeymoon, Hillgrove Gold, Bounty Gold Mine, Australian Magnesium Corporation, Nifty, and Cadia.

The Conference Proceedings are available from the Publications Department of the AusIMM on CD-ROM, email: publications@ausimm.com.au. The contents page and copies of the (remaindered) Proceedings of the 1998 conference (Mineral Processing and Hydrometallurgy Plant Design World Best Practice) can be obtained from David Pollard, email: dpollard@senet.com.au.

D. Pollard, Salamander Consulting Pty Ltd, PO Box 301, Stepney SA 5069, Australia. Email: dpollard@senent.com.au




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