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Statistical Plant Trials – Efficiently Combining Concentrate Grade and Metal Recovery Results


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Author G Long, S Taylor and B Lumsden


Statistical metallurgical plant trials are becoming more widespread, as a valuable tool for increasing plant profitability. Generally, a single parameter like metal recovery varies under the trial condition while all other variables such as average metal feed grade or average metal concentrate grade are equal for the two test conditions during the period of the test. Metal recovery is usually the measured variable because concentrate grade is fixed by smelter terms, and plants operate to maximise recovery at the required concentrate grade. However, in all flotation plants there is a relationship between concentrate grade and metal recovery, and under the same conditions increasing one results in a decrease in the other. At MMG’s Rosebery Mine the zinc concentrate produced is generally above smelter specifications, so zinc concentrate grade can vary during a test. During trialling of magnetic conditioning in the Rosebery zinc circuit, the difference in both zinc recovery and zinc concentrate grade were analysed. The analysis of changes in zinc grade and recovery during the trial raised some interesting questions about the relationship between concentrate grade and recovery. A paired statistical method was developed and tested to combine in each pair the change in concentrate grade and recovery in a single result that could be analysed by a paired t test. This method was found to be very sensitive to combined, varying changes in concentrate grade and/or metal recovery. It was also evaluated on plant test results from another flotation plant to verify its applicability in other plants.

Long, G, Taylor, S and Lumsden, B, 2012.
Statistical plant trials – Efficiently combining concentrate grade and metal
recovery results, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Mill Operators’
, pp 355-362 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).