Tabulation of Operating Data for Copper Flotation Mills

Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 42
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1985
General. Data for the operating information given in the 15 tables in this chapter was obtained from voluminous questionnaires sent to over 100 operating companies in 1972. There has been a considera¬ble change since then in supply and power costs and many companies have had expansions or revisions since that time, so it must be realized that information is valid for the year 1972. This is true except for the three new properties of Sacaton, Metcalf, and Pinto Valley. These three operations started up since 1972 and all information for them was obtained in 1975. The questionnaires were sent to all major copper properties throughout the world as well as to many smaller units and to some mines that had complex or unusual conditions. Properties for which no information is given did not submit completed questionnaires. Several operations were unable to supply information requested be¬cause of company policy prohibiting it. However, data is presented for 75 different operating properties. The reference number of the left-hand column is the same for all 15 tables of data. If the company had several operating properties as of 1972, then subsequent properties use the same number but a different letter. For example, Anaconda's property at Butte, Mont., is IA, whereas Anaconda's (now Anamax) Twin Buttes property in Arizona is IB. Table I gives general data for the properties including exact loca¬tion, milling rate, pertinent assay values and recoveries, and a brief listing of ore and gangue minerals. It was not possible to obtain any more information from the properties in Chile except that given in Table I. Crushing. Crushing plant operating data is given in Table 2. This table gives data on the crushers, feeders, and screens used at each property. The data obtained on feeders was confusing, but, rather than completely eliminate this information, it was decided to report it as given. The confusion lies only in the description of where the feeder is located. Where a primary feeder is listed it was not possible to determine if this feeder was on primary feed or primary discharge. For secondary feeders it is known that the feeder listed usually is feeding the secondary crushers, but at some properties it is handling the secondary crusher discharge. The same reasoning holds true for tertiary feeders-they handle either tertiary feed or discharge. This table contains a voluminous amount of data. A column giving tons per day per square foot of screen area would have been very informative, but some properties included circulating load in the feed rate and others listed new feed only, so calculations were meaningless. Autogenous Mills. The use of autogenous or semiautogenous mills for any property must be given serious consideration in the future. Table 3 lists data for four properties that are fully autogenous and four more semiautogenous mills that use balls to supplement the chunks of ore. This method of grinding is especially applicable when the ore is of such a nature that crushing problems would be severe, such as when ore is wet or sticky or contains a lot of fines. Paradoxically, it should also be considered when ore is tough and hard and blocky because then the competency of the ore means it can serve well as the grinding media. Where the ore varies greatly in hardness, as at Cyprus Pima and Lornex, semiautogenous grinding has been especially beneficial with capital costs and operating costs both 10-20% lower than could be obtained with conventional crushing and grinding. Rod Mills. For a great many years the standard milling operation used two- or three-stage crushing followed by open circuit rod mills and then ball mills in closed circuit with classifiers of some kind. A surprising number of properties crush to the fine size of about 3/8 in. and then use ball mills only, in closed circuit, with no rod mills. It is difficult to say whether rod mill-ball mill circuits or ball mill only is the best. One can be certain of two things: (1) the argument will go on for a long time and (2) for some mills one method obviously was superior over the other. As ball mills of 14, 15 ft, and larger came into use, more properties like Duval Sierrita (16b ft diam by 19 ft long) and Bougainville (18 x 21 ft) were built with single-stage ball mill grinding. Although there are larger rod mills used, especially in the iron ore industry, the largest rod mills on copper ore are at Twin Buttes (14 x 18.5 ft) and at Gibraltar (13'A x 20 ft). Table 4 lists operating data for rod mills. If a company is listed in Table I
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