The Impact Of Ore Characterization And Blending On Metallurgical Plant Performance

Williams, N. R.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2001
Black Mountain, a polymetallic base metal mine located in the Northern Cape territory of South Africa has been blessed with high grade economic ore for many years. Now that the Broken Hill orebody is nearing the end of its life, a lower grade orebody (Swartberg) is being exploited to supplement production from Broken Hill. In addition, ore from stopes in the upper levels of the Broken Hill orebody is considerably tarnished (oxidized). As a natural result, the remaining ore contains a higher percentage of magnetite, pyrrhotite and pyrite than in earlier years. Bismuth, cadmium and cobalt also occur in the ore in higher quantities. The life of the mine has been lengthened with the discovery of further deeper-lying ore reserves extending from the Broken Hill orebody suitably called the Deeps section. However, to bridge the gap between development of the new reserve and the exhaustion of the old reserve, these lower grade and tarnished (oxidized) ores have to be treated. The mine has had reasonable success in identifying unfavourable or problematic ore types and stockpiling them separately to blend in small quantities with more favourable ore. Bench and plant scale tests have aided identification of the various ore types and significant improvements in flotation metallurgical results have been seen. Copper, lead and zinc metal occur as sulphides in the ore. The mill consists of a differential and sequential flotation process that extracts copper concentrate, lead concentrate and zinc concentrate respectively with silver metal recovered in the copper and lead concentrates. This paper describes the ore blending strategy employed at the mine to maximize the econo-metallurgical efficiency of the operation.
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