Challenge

BHP

Online characterization of the ore fed to Rougher Flotation

Challenge

Online characterization of the ore fed to Rougher Flotation

Technological solutions are sought to characterize the feed to the Rougher Flotation mineralogically and physically, determining both microscopy and the size distribution for each type of copper sulphide (floatable and non-floatable) online and in real time.

Aim and scope
Technological solutions are sought to characterize the feed to the Rougher Flotation mineralogically and physically, determining both microscopy and the size distribution for each type of copper sulphide (floatable and non-floatable) online and in real time. The solution must be able to obtain information to determine for each particle size fraction the following information: type of copper sulfide, non-floatable copper (oxides and others); free pyrites and/or associated with copper sulfides, occluded minerals, scattered minerals and lateral associations.

Operation and processes involved
Minera Escondida, Los Colorados Concentrator Plant

Current situation
Challenge
All mining operations are conditioned to the natural variability of the mining reserves in the production plan, which if not managed in a timely manner, generate negative effects on the technical indicators of the process; and finally in the profitability of the mining business. In particular, in the process of mineral concentration, one of the key variables that affect the recovery efficiency is the granulometry of the mineral fed to flotation, particularly liberation of minerals of commercial interest and in the case of the quality of the concentrate, the pyrite content. In this context, empirical data shows that the main causes of recovery loss are the extremes of the particle size distribution. The coarse fraction is induced by a decrease in the mineral liberation and the ultrafine fraction by its fluid dynamic behavior.
For this reason, it is important to have online and real-time information that allows timely operational decisions to be made when changes in the quality of the mineral fed occur

Consequences
Loss of process efficiency, which affects the amount of copper recovered and the concentrate gradeWhen does the problem occur?
The changes occur randomly and permanently due to the nature of the natural resources as well as operational conditions that can affect the quality of the mineral fed. On this last point, it is probable that sectors from the same mine contribute mineral with different metallurgical characteristics (mineralogy, mineral liberation, etc.) and, in this case, the quality or variability of the mixture may be affected.

 

When does the problem occur?
The changes occur randomly and permanently due to the nature of the natural resources as well as operational conditions that can affect the quality of the mineral fed. On this last point, it is probable that sectors from the same mine contribute mineral with different metallurgical characteristics (mineralogy, mineral liberation, etc.) and, in this case, the quality or variability of the mixture may be affected.

How is it currently resolved?
Currently, incremental samplings of the rougher float feed are carried out, generating a composite per work shift. These are mineralogically characterized to determine, among other aspects, mineral liberation, type of copper, mineralogical association and presence of pyrite. In addition, a physical characterization is carried out in order to determine the grainsize profile and chemical analysis of the tailings. All this information is received 12 hours later (1 work shift) and is stored to make statistics of the process, but it is not useful to act in a timely manner.

Tested technologies
New technologies have not been tested.


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Challenge page

Supply Innovation BHP

aims to promote the development of projects between the Company and the Suppliers with an associative approach, where the design and construction of the solution for the “Challenge” detected by an area of the Operation is addressed jointly. In this way, the generated projects develop solutions that add value to the Company and the suppliers build capacities and competencies that translate in more and better business opportunities.

Expande program

The Open Innovation in Mining Program, Expande, is a public-private initiative designed and carried out by Fundación Chile. The purpose is to drive innovation and make possible a better future for global mining, promoting the mining ecosystem in Chile along with building a collaborative model that enables the best solutions for the high complexity challenges of mining today and tomorrow.