The minerals industry has been given an opportunity to grow and continue to advance again in an environment where there is the potential to reap big rewards for efficiency improvements due to buoyant metal prices and the growing demand of markets in Asia. Improving efficiency may also provide a better return compared to risks of expansions and bringing new projects online due to limited human and financial capital.
An opportunity for improvement presents itself in the area of mine-mill reconciliation, which entails the quantification of the variance between measurement points along the mining value chain. Reconciliation factors are calculated from the variance between respective sections within the mining sequence. These factors are commonly used as key performance indicators to provide a check on the performance of the operations.
Over parts of the mining value chain, there is a fair understanding of the reconciliation between the Resource and Reserve estimates and the measured metallurgical plant inputs and product outputs through understanding of the mine-mill interface. The quality of reconciliation data gathered across the mine and plant is generally not well established due to practices employed in generating the data. The reconciliation variances are often a function of data accuracy and quality used in the comparison. In general, the sources and magnitude of measurement and sampling errors and their impact on reconciliation are not that well understood.
Examples of the current practices of mass measurement, sampling, sample preparation, chemical analysis and quality assurance for broken ore and across the metallurgical process stream are considered. Guidelines are given for those reconciliation elements that are identified as requiring a high degree of confidence for Mineral Resource/Reserve and metal accounting reporting.
These guidelines are presented and practices are demonstrated to improve mine to mill reconciliation and support increased resource to product efficiency and value.
Gnoinski, G B, van Wyk, C, Webber, J and Reeves,
I, 2012. Guidelines and practical applications for continuous improvement in
mine to mill reconciliation, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Mill Operators'
Conference, pp 309-316 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).