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|Introduction The design of wet grinding circuits may vary considerably according to the duty which is to be performed. Grinding machines which are commonly used in these circuits are rod mills, ball mills, autoge¬nous mills, and pebble mills while size separation machines commonly used are vibrating and wedge-wire screens, hydrocyclones, and rake classifiers. In some circuits, such as those producing feed to cement kilns, all the ore entering the circuit is discharged in a single product stream. In others, such as those operating on magnetite-taconite ores, the feed entering the circuit leaves in two or more streams. Grinding circuits in flotation plants normally include sections in which either the concentrate or the tailings from the primary flotation circuit is reground and these additional sections should be regarded as an inte¬gral part of the grinding circuit. A typical circuit is shown in Fig. 18. Problems in achieving maximum efficiency may occur at three stages: 1) At the design stage when the optimum size reduction flow¬sheet must be selected with respect to the types, numbers, and sizes of processing units. 2) At the operating stage when the correct selection of values must be made for those variables which may be altered while the circuit is off-line but which are constant while the circuit is on-line, for instance the vortex finder diameter of the cyclones. 3) Under conditions of continuous operation when changes in the circuit feed or in the mechanical operation of the circuit may cause undesirable changes in the circuit product. The first two prob¬lems are concerned with optimization, that is, with making the best choice from many possibilities, and the last with control. Optimization Problems. The main purpose of a wet grinding circuit is to produce particles with a sizing distribution which will ensure optimum performance of the later chemical reaction or physical concentration circuits, because it is on the efficiency of these later circuits that the economics of the total mineral treatment process depend. The size distribution of the product from a grinding circuit may be affected by many variables, some concerned with the arrange¬ment and operation of the machines and some concerned with the ore characteristics, and it is important that these should be recognized in the design and operation of the circuit. For instance, in a simple ball mill-cyclone circuit the variables which affect the product size even for constant feed characteristics are shown in Fig. 19. In addition, the rate, size, hardness, and mineralogical composition of the feed will affect the performance of the circuit and the product size. When the circuit contains more than one mill, both the number of choices available and the complexity of the problem are increased consider¬ably. Consequently, one type of problem which is to be solved if an optimum product is to be obtained from an existing grinding circuit is that of circuit design, and this includes arrangement of processing units and selection of those operating conditions which cannot be altered when the circuit is operating, such as mill speed and cyclone inlet and outlet dimensions. The other major problem in optimization is encountered at the design stage when a choice must be made about the type, number, and size of processing units. For instance, for a typical high-capacity size reduction operation, should two circuits each containing one rod mill and two ball mills or three circuits each containing one rod mill and one ball mill be used? Alternatively, should ball mills only be used and if so, how many, what size, and what arrangement?|