Evolution Mining is the sole owner of the Mt Rawdon open cut operation, located 75 km south-west of Bundaberg in Queensland, Australia (Figure 1). It is a massive, volcanically hosted, low-grade gold deposit that exhibits excellent characteristics conducive to low cost mining and treatment.
In 2014, Mt Rawdon began investigating initiatives to deliver higher mill throughputs without any significant capital expenditure or modifications to the existing processing plant. Various studies have shown throughput increases are possible by applying more blast energy, essentially by reducing feed size through blasting and leaving less work for the comminution circuits (Brent et al, 2013; Ziemski, 2011; Workman and Eloranta, 2003).
Given that 53 per cent of energy used on a mine site is consumed by the comminution circuit, with only two per cent being consumed by drill and blast (Smith, 2013), it makes logical sense for a mining operation to align their drill and blast with their processing plant. The term commonly used when exploring this relationship is a ‘Mine to Mill’ program.
Over nearly 12 months, various blasting options and Mine to Mill methodologies were tested at Mt Rawdon. Throughout the journey, it was abundantly clear that the Mine to Mill initiative is not as simple as making one technical or physical change and expecting an improvement. Rather, true sustainable improvements demand a paradigm shift across both the mining and processing cultures, where all departments are aligned and working towards the one outcome. This true overarching Mine to Mill mentality, enabled by Vistis™ 250 high energy bulk explosive, ultimately led to a sustained increase in throughput and profitability of the Mt Rawdon operation.
Wallace, G and Morton, D, 2016. High Energy Bulk Explosives and Mine to Mill Focus – the Mt Rawdon Story, in Proceedings Ninth AusIMM Open Pit Operators’ Conference 2016, pp 60–69 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).