Northparkes installed and commissioned a secondary crushing circuit in 2010 to debottleneck the semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mill constrained grinding circuits. Following further improvements to the circuit (inclusion of a double deck vibrating screen), the project successfully delivered finer feed to the SAG mill. The result of this project was an increase in the milled tonnes from 5.6 Mt/a in 2012 to 6.0 Mt/a in 2013.
The increased throughput rates introduced new challenges with the circuit becoming power limited. How to best optimise the available comminution power, while delivering the optimal particle size to the flotation circuit was made the key optimisation objective. To achieve this objective, Northparkes initiated a project that included engaging comminution experts. Recommendations included changes to the SAG mill including mill lifter design, increased grinding media charge levels and reduced grinding media size with aim of producing a finer grind size.
Northparkes implemented these recommendations along with some other changes to SAG discharge grates and the mill discharge vibrating screen. This achieved a substantial reduction in the flotation feed particle size distribution (approximately 20 microns) by utilising increased average SAG power utilisation, in turn resulting in a two per cent increase in copper recovery.
With power utilisation now maximised, the next phase of optimisation has moved to the throughput-grind-recovery relationship and the cost benefit analysis of installing additional grinding power.
Sulianto, Y, Trott, T, Morgan, D, Bell, T, Kock, F and Putland, B, 2016. Optimisation of Installed Mill Power Post-installation of Secondary Crushing Circuit at Northparkes Mines, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2016, pp 331–338 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).