Although it is well known and easily experienced that the feed size distribution influences the throughput and stability of operation of a semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mill, the details are poorly understood since it is often only the input and output measurements that are used to identify unfavourable in-mill conditions. Load cells and power monitoring are sometimes used but are generally poor indicators of the mechanisms that lead to such unwanted conditions.
At the MMG Century operation a 12-microphone array around the SAG mill using non-contact acoustic measurement methodology has been used to diagnose the in-mill conditions to facilitate improved throughput and stability of operation. Use of acoustic measurement and control has provided a demonstrated increased throughput of at least 20 per cent as well as improved stabilisation of the mill. Since the information derived from the acoustic noise from a mill allows discrimination of the behaviour of the steel balls and the rock, a number of in-mill conditions can be identified with signals that include toe and shoulder angles, water holdup and the ball to rock ratio.
Feed size variations, measured online with an imaging system, have been used to determine their effect on the internal charge behaviour. It has been found that circumferential segregation of steel balls and rock occurs as well as poor mixing of large rocks. Both of these effects are not conducive to optimal breakage rates of different size fractions. Longitudinal segregation effects also occur. This paper presents and discusses these results and illustrates how the new acoustic knowledge can be used to manage and improve mill operation and stability.
Pax, R and Cornish, B, 2016. Understanding Size Effects of Semi-autogenous Grinding (SAG) Mill Operation as a Pathway to Solving Feed Disturbances – Case Study using the MMG Century SAG Mill, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2016, pp 321–330 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).