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Metallurgical test work – between a rock and a hard place


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Author A Newell, P D Munro and K Fiedler


Test work is the foundation upon which the success of projects and subsequent operations is laid, reflected in Professor Arthur Taggart’s pithy observation: ‘Make your mistakes on the small scale and your profits on the larger scale’. Indeed, Professor AllanTrench has succinctly noted that ‘Get the metallurgical characteristics wrong and you don’t have a project’.

With deposits becoming lower grade, more structurally and mineralogically complex, final products requiring lower levels of impurities and tailings management demanding more attention, test work now assumes even greater significance in the acceptance and successful execution of a project.

This paper is the first in a series aiming to stimulate thought on the metallurgical test work process by getting back to the fundamental basics through exploring and providing some guidelines for the metallurgical testing world, noting preferred practices as well as precautions and mitigations. This covers the key characteristics of metallurgical test work programs, including what needs to be done, sample selection, quality control and associated drivers, and most importantly, selecting, assessing and managing test work facilities.


Newell, A, Munro, P D and Fiedler, K, 2018. Metallurgical test work – between a rock and a hard place, in Proceedings 14th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2018, pp 15–32 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).