Autogenous Mills

Bond. F. C.,
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 37
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1985
Introduction Although autogenous grinding applications date back to the early years of mineral processing when tumbling-type mills were first used, there has been a renewed interest in this type of grinding over the past few decades. A review of the historical aspects of autogenous grinding is provided which follows the development of the various types of mills and processes. Wet and dry grinding operations using either autogenous or semiautogenous mills, including the Aerofall mill, are described. Em¬phasis has been placed on the test work required to evaluate the feasibility of using autogenous or semiautogenous grinding for a spe¬cific application. The factors which must be considered to establish the appropriate design criteria for these types of grinding circuits are discussed in detail. Successful application of these grinding circuits results from a thorough test program, a careful analysis of the test results, and a practical engineering approach to the design of the process flowsheet and milling equipment. Certain pebble milling applications, where the pebbles consist of the ore or rock itself, can be classified as autogenous pebble mill grinding, or better known as ore-pebble mill grinding. In the generic sense, pebble milling includes those grinding operations using a tum¬bling mill in which the grinding media consists of various types of pebbles, either ore or other pebbles, instead of metal balls. Conse¬quently, this subject is covered separately in Chapter 5, Pebble Mills. Operating data from many of the installations located throughout the world are included in this chapter. Our appreciation is extended to those companies who contributed this important information. History of Autogenous Grinding F. C. BOND Autogenous grinding, the grinding of ore by itself rather than by special metallic or nonmetallic grinding bodies distinct from the ore, has an old and honorable place in the art of mineral processing. It antedates the use of the rod mill and is only a few years younger than the development of the continuously fed rotating tumbling mill in which it is accomplished. Its history71, 72 is inextricably bound up with that of gold mining. Every important early development of autogenous grinding took place on ores of gold, except in one case of silver ore. In common with many other features of modern mineral processing, autogenous grinding would have been greatly retarded if the winning of gold had been so small a part of mining in the past as it is today. Gold unlocked the secrets of rock-on-rock grinding. In years past gold ores were crushed in stamp batteries and then flowed over copper plates covered with mercury which amalgamated the gold. The McArthur Forrest cyanide process for the dissolution of gold in a dilute alkaline cyanide solution appeared in 1890. With finer grinding it recovered more gold than could be won by amalgama¬tion alone. The first response was to stamp in cyanide solution and finer mesh screens guarding the stamp discharge. However, the fine screens greatly restricted the tonnage stamped, and they wore out rapidly. Rotating tumbling mills70, 73 were the obvious choice to grind the coarse product from stamps. Many of these were Gates tube mills; more than 1,000 of these were sold between 1907 and 1913. They were made in 6, 51h, and 5 ft diam, with lengths of 20 and 22 ft. The 5 x 22-ft size was the most popular. The term tube mill did not refer to the mill shape, but included all tumbling mills using grinding pebbles. The flint or chert rocks found along the coasts of Denmark and Normandy are probably the most durable and resistant to abrasive and tumbling wear of any on earth. They were much used in the early tube mills. The early linings were all silex or Danish flint blocks, cemented into place with portland cement. Local hard stones or cast iron blocks were also used later. The cast iron liners carried lifters and were not bolted to the shell, but were held in a tight circle against it by steel wedges hammered home between them. The first ribbed metal liners designed to hold grinding pebbles pounded into them by the mill action were developed at El Oro, Mexico, about 1905. These and the Forbes, Komata, and Tonopah types, as well as the Osborne type developed in South Africa within about five years, were very successful in reducing liner wear. They sometimes lasted two years or more, and equalled or exceeded the life of silex lining at a lower cost. Some of the types were patented. The pioneer name recorded in the history of autogenous grinding is that of Kenneth L. Graham. In 1907 at the Geldenhuis Deep Ltd. mine near Johannesburg, he ran a comparative test on two tube mills. One mill used pieces of the common gold ore, or banket, and the other used the customary imported Danish pebbles as grinding media. He published the first account of autogenous grinding.'' In a test lasting 81 days the ore pebbles showed a definite saving over the Danish pebbles. Graham's historic paper also describes the invention of B. Chew of the Crown Deep Mines of the first trammel to be attached to a grinding mill discharge. The first known account of autogenous grind¬ing printed outside of South Africa was the description of the Graham test in Mining and Scientific Press's The use of grate- vs. overflow¬discharge was also described at this time." The news of this successful test appears to have had immediate effect, for by the end of 1908 the number of tube mills on the Rand had increased from 72 to 120.76 Presumably, most of these mills were now using autogenous grinding. The ore was principally a hard conglomerate of quartz peb¬bles cemented by silica, and was eminently suitable for use as a grind¬ing media. It is unfortunate that in South Africa the new autogenous process continued to be called by its old name of pebble milling, since the name does not distinguish between grinding with ore and grinding with extraneous pebbles. For increased clarity the former is called rock pebble milling. The first historical stage in the development was what is now designated as secondary autogenous grinding, or rock pebble milling. It consists of grinding a feed all passing 'A in. or finer with ore pebbles about 2 to 4 in. in diameter. The next stage to develop was that now called intermediate autogenous grinding, where larger amounts of larger pebbles about 5 in. in size were used to grind ore which had been crushed to about rod mill feed size or somewhat finer. It was developed on the Rand and in other places where coarse stamp screens were used to increase mill tonnage. In many cases the early secondary and intermediate autogenous mills have now been replaced by conventional ball mills and rod mill-ball mill circuits, with the object of further increasing grinding capacity. The third stage to develop is designated as wet primary autogenous grinding, in which run-of-mine ore or a primary crusher product is all fed to the autogenous mill together. It developed many years later indepen¬dently in the United States and in South Africa. The fourth and most recent stage is that of dry primary autogenous grinding, which developed in the United States and Canada. All four stages originated in gold mining. The first use of commercial autogenous grinding outside of the Rand apparently took place five years later in 1912 at the Santa Gertrudis gold mine at Pachuca, 55 miles northeast of Mexico City. This was followed closely by an installation at Goldfields, Nevada, in 1914-1915. The first name associated with autogenous grinding
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