Bond, F. C.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1985
History The breaking and shaping of rock was one of man's earliest occupations. In the Paleolithic Age long before the dawn of history, arrow¬smiths and the makers of stone axes, hammers, knives, scrapers, spears, and borers were highly respected members of society. In early historical times stones for building blocks, roads, and city walls were shaped by slaves and convicts, who also did most of the mining. However, great artists erected beautiful stone sculptures, while gifted architects planned imposing temples and monuments. Until well into the 19th century nearly all rock was broken laboriously by hand. The small rock required by John MacAdam for his macadamized roads in England in the 1820s was produced by women and boys seated alongside the roadside with hand hammers and legs wrapped with rags. Eli Whitney Blake, a nephew of the Eli Whitney who invented the cotton gin, developed the first successful jaw crusher before 1870. The gyratory conical crusher soon followed. Comparative tests established its large capacity advantage over the jaw crusher, as well as its greater cost for a given feed size. Both types have been in use for more than 100 years. Crushing rolls appeared before 1900. Thomas A. Edison made very large diameter rolls which were excessively long; they failed because of shaft deflection. Various types of disk crushers and edge runner rolls appeared about this time. The older methods of reducing rock were adaptations of other processes. The stamp battery of dropping weights effected crushing by simulating heavy hammer blows; the much earlier arrastre, in which heavy stones were dragged in a circular path over the ore by animal power, came from the prehistoric method of grinding grain between two rubbing stones, while the jaw crusher was adapted from simple squeezing devices. But the tumbling grinding mill was not just an adaptation; it was an invention, because it required thinking on a somewhat higher order-there was no prototype. Its nearest antecedents were probably the small closed tumbling drums used in England more than a century ago for cleaning and polishing small iron castings. The date of the first tumbling mill actually used to grind rock is unknown, but it was later than the American Civil War (1861¬1865). It was almost certainly a closed or batch mill in which rock was placed and rotated until it reached the desired particle size. It could have been operated either wet or dry. The first published refer¬ence to such a batch mill was one introduced by Alsing in England (1870) for the grinding of calcined flints for pottery work.21 There are several rather indefinite reports of grinding mills in the early 1890s, including an overflow ball mill in the Helena and Livingstone reduction plant in Montana which may have been the first of its kind. 11 Many of the first mills, which were called tube mills, used hard rock both as grinding media and as mill lining. The rock used was preferably stone from the Normandy and Danish beaches, when it could be imported. This remarkable siliceous stone was already widely used for grist mills throughout America, and its resistance to wear was greatly respected. The decade of the 1890s saw the development of tumbling mills with continuous feed and discharge and their extension into different industrial uses. By 1895 some experience had been accumulated. Iron grinding balls were being tested and the proper speed of rotation was being determined. The Clark Patent tube mill was featured in an E. P. Allis bulletin of 1890, which may have been the first published description of a tube mill. More than 1,000 Gates tube mills had been built by Allis-Chalmers before 1913. Many of these were used in gold mining, espe¬cially in South Africa. The 5 x 22-ft size was particularly favored for grinding portland cement; the use of tumbling mills in the manufac¬ture of cement began about 1900. A great deal of attention was paid to the mill lining. Metal was then relatively expensive, and the general approach was to trap some of the rock grinding media into mill lining pockets. This rock would then absorb the wear and protect the metal lining. In the first ten years of the 20th century there were several different types of pocketed liners, with different manufacturers advancing the superior claims of their patented arrangements. The Osborne liner, developed in South Africa, was probably the most successful. 21 Another item which attracted much attention was size classifica¬tion within the mill and in ancillary equipment attached to the mill and rotating with it. The Krupp type, with interior screens protected inside the mill lining, was developed quite early in Germany, possibly before 1890. The Dorr reciprocating rake classifier (1907) had not yet been invented, and many strange and impractical screening and classifying devices were proposed. In these unsatisfactory machines the two separate processes of size reduction and classification were combined into one operation. It was many years before recognition came that a machine is most efficient when it is designed for one specific purpose. There was much industrial wastage before the opera¬tions of grinding and classification were finally separated. After 1900 the grinding of portland cement raw material and of cement clinker required large numbers of tumbling mills. Most of the raw material was then ground dry. This was also the heyday of gold mining. The old stamp mills that were used in great numbers for grinding gold ore did not grind sufficiently fine to liberate all of the gold, and the new tube mills were installed following the stamps. After 1910 larger diameter tum¬bling mills with larger grinding media were developed. These could receive the finely crushed ore directly, and the inefficient stamp batter¬ies were gradually eliminated. The Rand in South Africa was the greatest gold producer, treating immense quantities of rather low-grade but consistently free milling gold ore. The first tumbling mills, or tube mills, went into operation there in 1904. They were so successful that within a few years no new stamp batteries were installed in the district, even though old ones continued to pound away until after 1950.3 The early tube mills on the Rand all employed Normandy or Danish pebbles, which had to be imported at considerable expense. Their reported wear was as low as 4 lb per ton ground. 4 Many of the mills were lined with the same tough Danish stone cemented into place, while others used the pocketed steel Osborne liner. It was in 1907 on the Rand that an important test was made using hard native ore for grinding media in place of the expensive imported pebbles. 3 This ore, called banket, did not wear as well as the renowned Danish pebbles, but the cost per ton of grinding was definitely reduced. Many of the tube mills on the Rand were soon grinding with native ore. This was the beginning of the development now called autogenous grinding, in which the ore grinds itself. This is treated under a separate heading. See Subsection 3C, Chapter 4. Gold mining was important in America also, and its grinding history follows that of the Rand. Danish pebbles were replaced by native ore in Santa Gertrudis, Mexico, in 1913, 4 and in Consolidated Gold Fields, Nevada, in 1914. 5 Other properties followed suit. However, it gradually became apparent that the capacity of a given mill could be almost doubled if rock grinding media were re¬placed by cast iron or steel grinding balls. In order to increase plant grinding capacity many rock media mills were converted to iron grind¬ing media in the second decade of the present century. In some mills the motor size was doubled; other mills were cut in two and another motor was provided for the second half. Grinding mills began to assume a more modern appearance. Crushing rolls were formerly much used following crushing in jaw or gyratory crushers and preceding grinding in ball mills. How¬ever, the roll surfaces wore rapidly, and skilled maintenance was required to obtain even wear. Rod mills could take feed of the same crusher product size and reduce it finer. The first rod mill was con¬structed by Mine and Smelter Supply Co. and was tested in Canada
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