Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy]]> vol. 112 num. 4 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Student Colloquium 2011</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Performing an investigation</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Stellenbosch students learn all about gold</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Wits School of Mining Engineering introduces preparative short course for entrance to postgraduate study</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Spotlight - 2001 Student Colloquium</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>A trade-off study between down-dip and breast mining on the Merensky Reef at Khomanani 2</b>]]> Anglo American Platinum's Khomanani 2 shaft changed over from down-dip mining to breast mining in 2004. The changeover was made to ensure that production targets were met, as it was said that predevelopment for down-dip mining was not fast enough to sustain the required ore reserves; nevertheless, production performance did not increase as expected. In this study a trade-off was performed between down-dip mining and breast mining on the Merensky Reef at Khomanani 2 in order to find the most suitable method for mining the Merensky Reef. Data was gathered by means of a literature survey, underground observations, and interviews with personnel as well as data from various departments on the mine. The two mining methods were studied and then evaluated in terms of the following criteria: safety, mining rate, cost and other factors which were identified as the main drivers of the mine. A scaling system was used to rate the performance of the two mining methods. Analysis of the results shows that down-dip mining and breast mining have the same safety performance ratings. Breast mining has a better mining rate performance than down-dip mining. Breast mining was found to be costly in comparison with down-dip mining, which has a good cost performance rating. The overall ratings of the two mining methods are very similar, with down-dip mining achieving a rating of 76 and breast mining 75.5 out of an optimum 102. Khomanani 2 currently practices breast mining, and with such a slight difference in performance rating between the two methods, it will not be worth changing over to down-dip mining as production is likely to be adversely affected during the changeover. Down-dip mining does, however, have potential for improvement in its performance rating. Further studies focusing on the improvement of the mining rate performance for down-dip mining are needed to see if this potential can be realized. If significant improvement can be made in the performance rating for down-dip mining, a changeover to down-dip mining can be reconsidered. <![CDATA[<b>An investigation on underground transport roads and influence on safety and productivity at Khutala Colliery</b>]]> The purpose of the project was to investigate the challenges faced by Khutala Colliery pertaining to underground road construction and maintenance. Furthermore the influence of these challenges on productivity and safety requirements were taken into consideration. The operating standards required for the construction and maintenance of the 2 seam road transport infrastructure was investigated, together with reasons why the standards of operating procedure are not met. The Code of Practice put in place by Khutala Colliery was used to view the standard operating procedures. Leading practices on underground road construction were researched. The project aims to discover the gaps that Khutala Colliery must bridge to implement enhanced practices with regards to underground road construction. During the period of study, observations were carried out to determine whether the road construction standards of operating procedure were being adhered to at all times for both road construction and road maintenance. Khutala Colliery has put in place a traffic management plan, which includes safety practices and work policies that must be adhered to while travelling on underground transport roads. <![CDATA[<b>A conceptual study into the implementation of a centralized blasting system at Samancor's Mooinooi Mine</b>]]> The utilization of centralized blasting systems is progressively becoming a feature of the South African mining industry, owing to increased pressure from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to ensure safer blasting conditions. The purpose of a centralized blasting system (CBS) is to ensure reduced blasting-related incidents and to improve the underground working environment for the mine's employees. The brief from Samancor Western Chrome Mines (WCM) pertaining to this study was to explore-at a conceptual level-all variables pertaining to the implementation of the CBS. Studies have indicated that Sasol's SafeBlastTM was preferred due to low overall risks and user-friendliness. Empirical observations, however, indicated that attention should be given to the current shaft-clearing procedure and to the installation of additional transformers. This is required to coordinate the power supply from 2 level to 10 level with the required supply of the network slave station. A cost analysis indicated that an electronically initiated CBS will result in a R24 cost increase per panel, which relates to a mere 1% cost increase per panel. This cost, in addition to the R1.1 million capital cost, proved to be negligible in comparison to the possible direct and indirect costs incurred by the mine in the event of a blasting-related incident. It was found that Samancor should conduct further studies incorporating the necessary requirements to ensure a successful transition, while considering all stakeholders on the mine. This study proved that the transition to a CBS would ensure safe and efficient blasting at Samancor's Mooinooi Mine. <![CDATA[<b>Leaching of rare earth elements from bentonite clay</b>]]> Due to increasing concerns of global rare earth element shortfalls in the near future, possible alternative sources of rare earth elements have recently become of economic interest. One such alternative is decanting acid mine water originating primarily from abandoned old mines in the Witwatersrand region of the Republic of South Africa. In this study, a novel way of rare earth element removal from the acid mine drainage was employed, making use of bentonite clay, which has very good adsorbent properties, as a rare earth element carrier material. The process can be economically viable only, if the elements can be selectively removed from the bentonite clay carrier material so as to yield reusable clay. Acid leaching was proposed to liberate the adsorbed rare earth elements from the bentonite clay. Accordingly, acid leaching experiments were performed to study the desorption of three commonly-found rare earth elements, namely neodymium, samarium, and dysprosium, from bentonite clay in the presence of sulphuric and hydrochloric acid. It was established that the three rare earth element species could be selectively removed as a group from iron, magnesium, and manganese metals through the careful manipulation of the pH. An investigation into the kinetic aspects of the rare earth element desorption process from the bentonite clay was also undertaken. The applicability of various kinetic models such as zero-order, pseudo first-order, pseudo second-order, elovich, parabolic diffusion, and power function were tested to describe the time-dependent desorption of rare earth elements from bentonite clay. It was determined that the pseudo second-order kinetic model represented the dissolution processes for neodymium, samarium, and dysprosium from bentonite clay the most accurately. <![CDATA[<b>Precipitation of rhodium from a copper sulphate leach solution in the selenium/tellurium removal section of a base metal refinery</b>]]> Copper sulphate solutions are produced during the pressure leaching of first-stage leach residue in a typical base metal refinery process. Apart from impurities such as selenium and tellurium, this leach solution also contains other precious metals (Rh, Ru, and Ir) due to dissolution in the pressure leaching stage. Selenium and tellurium are removed from the leach solution by precipitation with sulphurous acid, since these elements negatively affect electrowinning. This study investigates the feasibility of modifying the Se/Te precipitation process step to achieve significant rhodium precipitation in addition to selenium and tellurium precipitation, in order to reduce the rhodium inventory of the process. Thiourea, SO2, formaldehyde, formic acid, and sodium thiosulphate were evaluated to determine which of these reagents would achieve the highest Rh precipitation. Based on these screening tests, SO2 and thiourea were selected to be used as precipitation reagents in optimization tests. During these optimization tests, the operating temperature (80 to 150°C) and the amount of reagent added (80 to 140 per cent excess) were varied to evaluate the effects that these operating conditions have on the precipitation behaviour of Rh as well as Se, Te, Cu, and Ni, and to propose appropriate operating conditions. It was found that thiourea resulted in good Rh and Se precipitation (typically in excess of 90 per cent), but precipitated noticeably more copper and nickel from the solution than when SO2 was used. In addition, thiourea had poor Te removal characteristics. SO2 achieved a maximum of 70 per cent precipitation of the rhodium. Faster kinetics and a larger extent of Te precipitation were, however, observed when using SO2 compared to thiourea. <![CDATA[<b>Cyanidation of reef and surface gold ores</b>]]> The kinetic leaching behaviour of a low-grade surface gold ore and a high-grade reef ore were evaluated to determine the achievable gold recovery from these ores and particularly mixtures of these ores. The reef ore material has a head grade of 13.40 g/t with a relative standard deviation of 3%, and the unprocessed surface ore material a head grade of 0.43 g/t with a relative standard deviation of 15.6%. It is concluded that the kinetic leaching behaviour of these free milling gold ores during cyanidation, is not influenced by mixing of reef and surface ore material. No statistically significant relationship exists between the achievable recovery by direct cyanidation and the head grade of the material fed. No ideal ratio of surface ore to reef ore could be established. It is recommended that these materials should be processed simultaneously to minimize the costs, security risks, and losses incurred in transportation. <![CDATA[<b>Economic modelling of a ferrochrome furnace</b>]]> All industrial processes are economically driven, resulting in the ever increasing need for process optimization in order to stay competitive and profitable. Numerous models has been published depicting the optimization of the raw material usage in an arc furnace, as well as the thermal and electrical efficiency; however, to obtain a holistic view of the cost-effectiveness of the process one needs to expand the model to include the cost of all the operational variables. This project therefore aimed to not only include the raw material feeds and power consumption as input variables, but also the labour, maintenance, and environmental costs to generate an all-inclusive financial balance. In the end, the model was able to mathematically optimize the ferrochrome (FeCr) production process through evaluating the effect of a specified combination of input parameters. It could therefore be used as a tool to aid in managerial decision-making; to appraise and correspondingly adjust certain operational variables in order to achieve a maximum return on investment. This paper fully describes the reasoning behind the choice of the essential model components, the assumptions made during the models development, the calculation approach, as well as the advantages, limitations, possible applications, and areas for expansion of the final model. Through running simulations with plant data, it was found that the accuracy of final model remained fairly constant when applied to stable furnace conditions, but was met with a number of limitations when applied to more complex situations. These limitations could, however, be overcome through further development and expansion of the existing model to include a larger number of process variables. <![CDATA[<b>Influence of gadolinium on the microstructure and mechanical properties of steel and stainless steel</b>]]> Iron, in the form of steel and stainless steel, is the most commonly used metal in the world. Plain steels corrode and oxidize easily, while stainless steels exhibit improved corrosion and oxidation resistance. It has been found that rare earth metal (REM) additions, such as cerium and erbium, result in the improvement of the abovementioned properties in iron-containing compounds. Gadolinium is a REM, however, there is very little information available on the influence of gadolinium on the microstructure and mechanical properties of iron-containing compounds. Thus, the purpose of this research project was to determine the influence of gadolinium additions on the microstructure and mechanical properties of mild steel and 316 stainless steel. Ten alloys were produced for the purposes of this research. Five of the alloys had a base composition of mild steel while the remaining five had base composition of 316 stainless steel. The alloys for each of the base composition contained gadolinium additions of 0.1, 0.5, 1.2, and 5 weight per cent. The as-cast and the cold-rolled alloys were analysed. The alloys responded well to the cold-rolling with the exception of the 5 weight per cent gadolinium mild steel and stainless steel alloys. These alloys were extremely brittle and underwent a significant amount of cracking during the cold rolling process. A microstructural analysis of the alloys was conducted using a light optical microscope, while the chemical analysis of the alloys was conducted using energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS). The resulting microstructures and EDS analyses revealed that the gadolinium displayed minimal solubility in the ferrite matrix of the mild steel alloys and minimal solubility in the austenite matrix of the stainless steel alloys. Instead the gadolinium formed as an interdendritic secondary phase in both alloys. EDS analysis revealed that the secondary phase in both alloys was gadolinium-rich. Vickers microhardness tests conducted on both alloys revealed that the alloys were composite-like, with a hard, brittle gadolinium-containing compound dispersed throughout a softer, more ductile matrix. The corrosion resistance of the alloys was determined through potentiodynamic anodic polarization tests. Two solutions were used for the corrosion rate tests: a 0.5 weight per cent NaCl solution and a 0.5 M H2SO4 solution. The results from the mild steel alloys revealed that in both the solutions, the corrosion potentials and the corrosion resistance of the alloys increased with increasing gadolinium concentration up to 1 weight per cent. The corrosion rate test results from the stainless steel alloys revealed that the passivation current density and corrosion resistance of the alloys increased with increasing gadolinium concentration in both solutions. The oxidation resistances of the mild steel and stainless steel alloys were determined through the use of a Netzstch Simultaneous Thermal Analyser. For both the mild steel and the stainless steel alloys, it was found that the oxidation resistance of the alloys increased as the concentration of gadolinium increased when compared to the as-received mild steel and stainless steel samples. This could be due to a strongly adhering gadolinium oxide scale that formed on the surface of the alloys and resulted in the protection of the mild steel and the stainless steel. <![CDATA[<b>An investigation into the optimization of personnel transportation to level 15 and below at Khuseleka No. 1 Shaft, Anglo Platinum</b>]]> The paper reports on a vacation work project conducted at Khuseleka No. 1 Shaft, Anglo Platinum, where there was a need to optimize the transport of personnel to level 15 and below. Approximately 900 men per hour need to travel between the shaft and the start of the current chairlift system. Time studies were used as the major indicator of the extent of the current problem, and it is recommended that a new chairlift system be installed to cover the distance from the vertical shaft station at level 15 to the chairlift decline station on level 15. A capital cost of approximately R10 million is necessary to carry out the proposed recommendation. Khuseleka No.1 Shaft has the capacity to wind 1070 people per hour, and the current labour complement going to the level 15 shaft station stands at 1570 employees; thus at optimum efficiency the proposed chairlift system could transport the entire shift to the start of the current chairlift system in only 1 hour and 45 minutes. Reducing the distance walked at the start of the shift may also have an impact on productivity.