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Determination of the handleability index of adhesive bulk materials


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Author M Carr, J Plinke, K Williams, A Roberts and W Chen


The depletion of iron ore deposits at the face of the mine site dictates the necessity for the exploitation of formerly less attractive orebodies to meet the demand of the modern world. These orebodies will typically be found close to or even beneath the water table where an increasing clay and moisture content will result. Problematic iron ores, colloquially termed as ‘wet and sticky’ material (WSM), can have a significant impact in the material handling stream due to the expensive downtime of processing equipment, which is attributed to the inter-particle and boundary cohesion and adhesion forces of the bulk material.

In order to gain a better understanding of the causes of poor handleability, experimental test methods to determine wall adhesion, and inter-particle adhesion within bulk materials were developed. Based on the combination of wall adhesion and inter-particle adhesion measurements, with traditional methods of assessing bulk material handleability, a new method to assess the potential of bulk materials to cause handling problems is proposed. This method reduces the multitude of factors leading to problematic behaviour to a handleability index (HI) [0,1], which is easily assessed and understood. The method is suitable for adhesive materials and applicable for a wide range of material flow, from gravity reclaim stockpiles to transfer chutes and carry back on conveyor belts.

Additionally, this research presents an assessment of the HI derived by experimental testing of three iron ore samples. A clear understanding of the problematic behaviour of the iron ore samples is achieved with the use of dust extinction moisture (DEM) tests, which indicates the regions where problematic behaviour may be experienced on-site.


Carr, M, Plinke, J, Williams, K, Roberts, A and Chen, W, 2017. Determination of the handleability index of adhesive bulk materials, in Proceedings Iron Ore 2017, pp 503–510 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).