Grinding Control Strategy On The Conventional Milling Circuit Of Palabora Mining Company
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 2001
Automation of the conventional grinding circuits of Palabora Mining Company (PMC) required that adequate instrumentation and a control system had to be put in place, after which extensive testing had to be done to evaluate different grinding control strategies. The objective was either to optimize the particle size from the grinding circuit, or to increase milling circuit throughput while maintaining particle size at existing levels. Prior to automation of the process as described below the circuits were controlled manually. No on-line information on cyclone feed densities, cyclone feed flow or cyclone overflow particle size was available. This type of control relied heavily on interpretation of the process parameters by the operator and on his ability to make informed decisions on what the set points should be. An integral component of the automation process was the installation of a SCADA package (SysCad SDX) for implementing the on-line control strategy. A self-correcting model for prediction of cyclone particle size was developed and implemented on the SDX. The model is calibrated using values from the particle size analysers while they are operational. If the particle size analysers choke or fail for any reason, the model continues to provide a good estimate of the particle size. This technique ensures that a continuous particle size indication is available compared to the intermittent reading from the instrument. The continuous signal allows particle size to be used as a process variable for control purposes. A strategy was developed and implemented which allows for the production of a controlled grind size from the conventional milling circuit to the flotation circuit. The grinding control strategy allows for the control of particle size from the individual cyclone overflows. This strategy allows the operator of the process to increase or decrease production rate by specifying a coarser or finer grind size required for flotation.