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Implementation of Acoustic Arrays for Semi-autogenous Grinding Mill Operation


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Author R A Pax, R Wynn, S Mann and B Cornish


The semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mill at the MMG Century operation has failing load cells that are essential to the control strategy used to stabilise the mill. Currently, mill-bearing pressure is used as a proxy for the load cells, but it has been found to be a noisy signal and lacking in useful sensitivity. It is also prone to variations and drift due to temperature. After consideration of a number of options, a non-contact acoustic array has been installed around the SAG mill to provide a more stable proxy load signal as well as other information about the internal operation of the mill.

The installation consists of 12 microphones to provide some detail into the operational differences that occur during normal operations at the MMG Century SAG mill. This acoustic approach acknowledges that operational grinding mills emit significant acoustic emissions that are a consequence of the dynamic environment prevailing inside them.

Previous studies have attributed the acoustic noise to a range of events that occur inside these mills (Pax, 2011; 2012). Consequently, non-contact acoustic determinations of in-mill behaviour can provide powerful insights into the operation of the primary comminution tumbling mills. By measuring key microphone signal attributes at different positions around a mill, a holistic picture of mill internal operation can be developed.

This paper will describe the installation of the 12 microphones and discuss the use of the acoustic load signals as a proxy for failing load cells. It will also present data from new observations of internal mill dynamics and the results of implementation of control using these acoustic signals. Key to the control approach has been the development of a logically coherent picture of the processes inside the mill.


Pax, R A, Wynn, R, Mann, S and Cornish, B, 2014.
Implementation of acoustic arrays for semi-autogenous grinding mill operation,
in Proceedings 12th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2014 , pp 273–282 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).