This paper reviews the proportion of energy attributable to comminution within the Australian gold and copper mining sector. The need for this is motivated by inconsistencies in the quoted energy usage data and the lack of a common basis for reporting the fraction of energy in mining that is attributable to comminution. This study should form a reliable basis from which to assess both demand and opportunities to reduce energy consumption.
The proportion of milling energy was calculated for the major producers in the Australian gold and copper sector. A sampling methodology created by Powell et al (2003 – 2010) was initially used to provide an accurate and meaningful measure of the energy used in the comminution process. However, no useful method for grouping similar mines was found. Fortunately, a surprisingly large amount of high quality data was found from a number of different sources, allowing the development of robust relationships to be used to estimate a high proportion of the unknown values. The fraction of energy attributable to comminution was found to be dependent on how the total energy consumption was defined. For instance, comminution accounted for 52 per cent of the electrical energy, but only 21 per cent of the total energy publicly reported by the mines because a substantial proportion of energy used on a mine is in the form of transportation fuel (mostly diesel). Critically, the measured electrical energy consumption does not account for transmission and generation losses, while diesel energy usage is typically quoted according to its calorific value. This review proposes that diesel should instead be converted via the mechanical efficiency factor for diesel engines. Using this conversion, comminution was found to account for 36 per cent of the available energy on average. This approach allows a useful basis of comparison for mines regardless of whether milling energy is obtained from electrical or diesel generation. A summary of the results are shown in Figure 7 with other values obtained from literature. The total comminution energy assessed in this study accounts for 1.3 per cent of Australia’s electricity consumption, this figure will increase as the other mineral commodities are added to the study.
Ballantyne, G R, Powell, M S and Tiang, M, 2012.
Proportion of energy attributable to comminution, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM
Mill Operators’ Conference, pp 25-30 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).