The rapid development of geometallurgy in the mining industry has occurred in relatively recent times. Its importance as an independent discipline in the mineral processing world has been emphasised and recognised. To a large degree, this is the result of a growing understanding of the ore type being processed and their application to provide better metallurgical responses in different mineral processing techniques. The development has matured from early progress through to geological knowledge and into the realm of the metallurgist and mining engineer. Working together, they have developed a powerful framework that will interpret a body of mineralisation into measurable properties.
The integration of geometallurgy and operations has become of increasingly important due to improvement in understanding of an orebody as a natural system formed by a number of processes and with a definite fabric of mineralisation within different geological domain. These have to be taken into account when creating techniques that will enable operations to extract the valuable components from a distinct type of ore. Incorporation of such knowledge at an early stage of development, such as the feasibility stage significantly reduces the project risk.
This paper is written from the unique perspective of a process engineer embedded within a geological team. It discusses issues such cross discipline communications and misconceptions and details the numerous tricks, traps and treasures of geometallurgy encountered during defining of the Seminco and Taysan resources.
Sola, C and Harbort, G, 2012. Geometallurgy –
Tricks, traps and treasures, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Mill Operators’
Conference, pp 187-196 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).