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Simplified Hybrid Semi-autogenous Grinding Mill Control – Explanation and Practical Results at the Porgera Concentrator


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Author S Ngunz, F van Zyl, F Orrante, E Beltran, M Westcott and S Wilson


The primary control objective of the project is to achieve milling optimisation by ensuring that the energy available for rock breakage is used as efficiently as possible. This is achieved by increasing the level of mill filing until a process constraint is reached. Stable operation against this limiting constraint is then maintained to ensure long-term optimised operation.

Semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mill control optimisation presents a number of challenges. SAG mills have multiple inputs that are used to control multiple outputs (MIMO process). Secondly, the SAG mill loading process is a ‘high inertia’ process that can be approximated as an integrating process. This means that it is open-loop unstable.

The hybrid control strategy presented implements an advanced ‘load stabiliser’, which transforms this integrator process into a more manageable first order process, which can be steered stably against the constraints. This SGS hybrid Expert control strategy implemented on both SAG mills at the Porgera concentrator therefore consists of two integrated parts responsible for:

  • stabilising the mill load to a target
  • driving the mill load target to the maximum determined by the process constraints (eg maximum power draw) to maximise efficiency and throughput.

A comparative study is done between the operation of the plant for a period of a month before and a month after the implementation of this strategy. The results indicated a significant improvement in the SAG mills’ stability and operation as well as a reduction of overload situations leading to a loss of throughput.


Ngunz, S, van Zyl, F, Orrante, F, Beltran, E, Westcott, M and Wilson, S, 2016. Simplified Hybrid Semi-autogenous Grinding Mill Control – Explanation and Practical Results at the Porgera Concentrator, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2016, pp 313–320 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).