High Voltage Pulse (HVP) technology is a novel process that could potentially be the step-change needed in ore processability in the mining industry. The propensity of high voltage pulses towards mineral-enriched ore particles during treatment makes this technology selective and has the potential to enable ore pre-concentration by size separation. In this study, the potential for pre-concentration of a low grade copper-gold ore sample subjected to HVP pretreatment is investigated and compared to that achievable after mechanical breakage in JKMRC's rotary breakage tester (JKRBT). The data show that a better pre-concentration result can be achieved after HVP processing than conventional breakage. The gold pre-concentration potential is much better than that observed for copper. 4D HVP pre-concentration characteristic curves were produced to assess the metallurgical performance possible as a function of energy input. The case study shows that when targeting a nominal metal recovery of 90 per cent for gold, the HVP pre-concentration technique can split the low grade ore (0.9 ppm gold and 0.28 per cent copper in the feed size 26.5-37.5 mm) into two components – a low grade oversize material (0.3 ppm gold and 0.15 per cent copper) and a high grade undersize material (1.0 ppm gold and 0.3 per cent copper). The mass split to the low grade is 23 per cent. Under this mass split scenario, gold recovery to screen undersize is 90 per cent and copper recovery is 85 per cent. The HVP treatment of this feed size requires a specific energy (spark) of 2.8 kWh/t.
There is further research that would be required before industrial uptake of the HVP pre-concentration technology would be possible. This paper also outlines the research challenges that need to be overcome.
Huang, W, Shi, F, Antonio, C, Runge, K and Seaman, D, 2018. High-voltage pulse pre-concentration study using a low-grade copper-gold ore, in Proceedings 14th AusIMM Mill Operators' Conference 2018, pp 327–338 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).