Design of Plants

Weiss, Norman L. ; Bertram, J. M. ; Cavaliere, A. M. ; Chiang, D. D. ; Edmunds, James E. ; Gates, F. A. ; Hario, Neil ; McCune, S. ; Samuelson, Bengt ; Stephens, F. M. Jr.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 63
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1985
DESIGN BASIS Size of Project The size of the project generally is expressed in tons of ore milled per day, but company policies differ widely in this respect with a few adhering to this set figure but many expecting the design capacity to be liberal. To some companies that follow the latter practice a 25,000-tpd milling plant that cannot reach 30,000 or 35,000 tpd with¬out major additions is a disappointment. The engineers responsible for planning the operation must know what is intended. Other projects are sized according to the tonnage of product rather than of mine ore; examples are iron ore mills that express size in terms of tons per year of pellets or high-grade concentrates, heavy minerals plants in tons per year of rutile or ilmenite, cement plants in barrels per year, potash in tons per year of muriate, phosphate in tons per year of washer rock and flotation concentrate, and others. However, tons per day milling rate is also the common denominator in most of those instances because the major equipment has to be selected on that criterion. Equally important are operating schedules, particularly the number of operating days per week and shifts per day for ore delivery, crushing, grinding, and processing. Hours per shift also are an impor¬tant factor in design, particularly in the case of ore delivery, and the lost time expected for maintenance, cleanup, inspection, preventive maintenance shutdowns, and many others, has to be taken into ac¬count. Frequently, the ore deposit will vary in hardness and grade to such a degree that the capacity of the mill will vary widely from year to year and cannot be expressed as a fixed figure, but rather as an average over a calculable period, such as ten years, or as a specific daily capacity over the first two years, next four years, etc., or some similar projection. A good example of this kind of situation is Asarco's Mission operation 15 miles southwest of Tucson, Ariz., described by Weiss and Vincent,1 where the major rock types differed widely in hardness, so that a change in the proportion of these types in the mill feed could have imposed difficult design problems if a constant tonnage rate had been expected. Expected Life The life of a mining operation depends upon the size of the deposit and the rate of mining. The latter is a policy decision based on an economic analysis2 which, in turn, is based on many factors. From the point of view of mill planning, the estimated life of the operation determines many criteria and affects many decisions on strength of structures and degree of protection of men and materials, the quality of the materials-handling and process machinery, the type of delivery systems for ore to the mill and concentrates to the smelter or market, environmental considerations, and many others. Costly installations that may be excellent investments for a 20-year project may be waste¬ful for a 5-year operation. An example is the comparison of different methods of crushing or grinding. Take single- vs. multiple-stage grind¬ing-the former may be found more economical for a 5-year operation, and the other, more costly method more economical for a 15- to 20-year life. Mining and Ore Transportation The mining method and the means of transportation of the ore to the first crushing stage have far-reaching effects upon mill design, particularly the crushing sections, and upon site selection (see Chapter 2, Situation of Mill). Consequently, mill design cannot advance until the mine planning has reached at least tentative decisions concerning these important matters, or reach the final stages until much is known about the ore that may be expected month by month and year by year for a reasonable period. Methods of ore transportation used in over 90 underground and open-pit mines are listed briefly in Section 32 (Table 1), and more detail is found later in this section and in Section 10, Storage and Transport. These methods include surface railroad, trucks, conveyors, surface skips, underground skips, and tramming from hoist or tunnel. In surface mining, transportation of the uncrushed ore by rail or truck to the primary crushing plant-conveniently located for lowest overall cost-is most common. Rail transportation provides low perton-mile costs. Truck transportation, though in some cases less eco¬nomical, is more flexible and more adaptable to mountainous terrain; furthermore, recent improvements have reduced the operating costs to keep trucks competitive on low-grade ores. The design of the primary crushing plant will be essentially the same whether delivery is by truck or rail, but the location of the plant is subject to more rigid restrictions in the latter case because of grade limitations, and these in turn may adversely affect the selec¬tion of the mill site as well. The influence of truck haulage in reducing the stripping ratio in open-pit mines is an added reason for predicting a minor role for rail transportation in the future. The use of conveyors to transport ore from the pit to the milling plant involves (in most cases) crushing the ore to a reasonable size (10 to 20 in. maximum with today's crushers) before conveying. The Twin Buttes system3 which went into operation in late 1969, utilizes primary crushers (two) and conveyors to receive rock waste, ore, and low-grade stockpile material from trucks, then transport them to the appropriate destination. Flexibility is dependent upon the porta¬bility of the primary crushers. In the face of this development, inclined skip hoists are no longer important to the mill designers. Underground mines generally pose fewer problems of design; these will be discussed in Chapter 2. Character of Deposit The degree of homogeneity of the ore in various parts of the mine is an important factor. The characteristics that concern the millman (approximately in order of importance) are: hardness, assay, metallurgical response, size distribution,4 and moisture content. Under metallurgical response may be included degree of oxidation, mineral¬ogy, clay content, and reagent consumption, as well as process re¬sponse in general. Short-term variations-hour-to-hour, day-to-day, or even week-to-week-make operation of the plant more difficult, require greater flexibility of process design and, perhaps, also require more instrumentation and manpower. Uniformity of the ore in the characteristics noted previously and
Full Article Download:
(3103 kb)