24 January 2018: Bottlenecks, constraints, call them what you like. Every operation has to deal with the shifting nature of processing pain points as the orebody is progressively mined. Heterogeneity of ore can sometimes be blended to produce a consistent feed to a plant but more often than not operators need to deal with the variability in the feed’s metallurgical properties. So it’s important to know how big an issue the variability in the mine plan is for the processing production plan and in a recent Integrated Extraction Simulator (IES) project, that’s exactly what was investigated.

This article was published in CRC ORE News - January 2018

By Greg Shapland, IES Utilisation Manager

First the CRC ORE team had to integrate data from multiple point solutions: photometric-based particle size distribution analysis system, dispatch system, process control system and conveyor based detectors. The data was imported into IES to simulate every ore block to be mined in 2018 – over 4,500 blocks. The IES exercise used an integrated flowsheet containing blasting and comminution models, mass simulation, automated blast design, throughput maximisation and grind size constraint.

Only IES has all of these features, only IES can run them all simultaneously, and only IES can do it all in 30 minutes. The whole exercise took the CRC ORE team about two days to set up and execute.

To put that in perspective we estimate it would require about a day to simulate one block using the currently available commercial products - or over 10 years for the lot! For that reason, no one attempts to do it. What typically occurs is that they instead make very high-level estimates, which mostly lead to production targets being missed, or value opportunities being lost. Importantly, the project identified opportunities to use higher intensity blasting to increase throughput. One of the project deliverables was a heat map.

IES Heat Map

  • The image shows the ore blocks (colored) to be mined in an upcoming year.
  • The colors of the blocks denote the potential mill throughput uplift to be gained by using Mine-to-Mill.
  • Hot colors show strong amenability to throughput increase, cold colors show low amenability.
  • Hence this type of visualisation is often called a “heat map”.

The heat map is used to understand where and when extra value can be squeezed from the resource:

  • By maximising mill throughputs.
  • While still staying within production constraints.
  • But without incurring material additional costs.

When used in production, the map will enable the site to confidently schedule and achieve higher production targets.

 JKMRC, AMIRA and CRC ORE: Cooperating to fast track P9 value to industry sponsors using the cloud!

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