In an environment of lower zinc prices, falling revenues and reducing zinc feed grades, Century mine implemented a fast-tracked capital upgrade program in less than 15 months. The program was designed to increase ore milling throughput capacity by 20 per cent and optimise the capacity of the flotation plant to increase zinc recovery by approximately 2.5 per cent whilst maintaining final zinc concentrate grade.
A key aspect of this program was minimising capital expenditure by better utilising existing capacity and only adding capacity where absolutely required to address critical processing bottlenecks. By gaining an understanding of plant process bottlenecks and future ore blends, and by carefully selecting appropriate technologies for particular specific flotation applications, maximum return on minimal capital investment was achieved.
The close collaborative work achieved between the metallurgy processing department and other operational departments on-site was also critical to the success of this project. This work increased the mining and processing capacity of the mine and port site respectively, such that the full value of the process plant modification could be achieved.
Capital payback on this investment was achieved in approximately three and a half months.
This case study demonstrates the extra value to a mining business that can be achieved through fully understanding the mining/processing value chain and by careful targeted action to address critical bottlenecks in the processing chain from the mine through to the port site.
Akroyd, T J, Wynn, R and Costa, C,
2014. MMG Century Mine, a case study – maximising project net present value
through targeted capital expenditure and process optimisation against a backdrop
of falling metal prices and feed grades, in Proceedings 12th AusIMM Mill
Operators’ Conference 2014 , pp 417–426 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).