Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy]]> vol. 115 num. 8 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Platinum in the 21st Century</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>President's Corner</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Career Development in the Minerals Industry Event: The SAIMM Young Professionals' Council (SAIMM-YPC)</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>The physical ability of women in mining: Can they show muscle?</b>]]> Although women all over the world have been involved in mining activities for centuries, mining has always been considered a very masculine industry due to its heavily male-dominated workforce as well as the physicality of mining work. The mining industry has not been an obvious career choice and preferred place of employment for women; women were mainly employed in administrative and advisory positions. Until 1994, women were legislatively prohibited from being employed in underground operations in South Africa, but the Mines Health and Safety Act, No. 29 of 1996, removed these restrictions. In addition, new mining legislation (the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, No. 28 of 2002) and the accompanying Mining Charter make specific provisions for the inclusion of women in core mining activities and require 10% of core positions to be filled by women. This article voices perceptions of the physical ability of women employed in core mining positions. Findings are drawn from empirical work undertaken at platinum, phosphate, and copper mines. Quantitative and qualitative research paradigms are used. It is evident that women find it extremely difficult to perform mine work that requires physical strength and stamina. Practical recommendations, informed by the literature review and empirical findings, are made with the objective of contributing to the sustainable deployment of women in the mining industry. <![CDATA[<b>Transformation in the South African mining industry - looking beyond the employment equity scorecard</b>]]> Going beyond transformation claims contained in employment equity scorecards and industry compliance reports, this article provides qualitative insight into the initiatives employed and challenges experienced by mining companies in a quest to transform the mining industry. Perceptions expressed during in-depth interviews with 10 senior executives showed that the assumption that mining companies are reluctant to transform is erroneous. Results from this study suggest buy-in and commitment to transformation. This article describes specific initiatives undertaken by mining companies to transform. The most notable initiatives include staff recruitment efforts to appoint historically disadvantaged South Africans (HDSAs), staff development initiatives, as well as community development. The findings furthermore contextualize the challenges experienced by industry participants in their quest to transform. Despite accusations that industry participants are not taking responsibility for the implementation of the transformation agenda, government needs to recognize that they too have a role to play and need to appreciate and assist in the current challenges experienced by the industry. <![CDATA[<b>Reconciliation along the mining value chain</b>]]> Metal accounting and reconciliation is an increasingly important governance issue in all mining operations, in that it is required, from a risk management perspective, that the company is in control of its product throughout the whole mining value chain. Reconciliation is a grossly misunderstood term. It means different things to different people, and therefore one of the purposes of this paper is to ensure a holistic and integrated understanding of 'reconciliation'. Previously, where reconciliation was done, it was often for internal control purposes and loosely applied, sometimes with a low degree of confidence and understanding of the underlying parameters and their natural variability. In most mining operations, issues such as dilution, stope performance, and recovery are critical to profitability and long-term value, and thus understanding and control of these key value drivers is essential, not only from the governance perspective, but also from the perspective of maximizing shareholder returns. In order to implement a system for metal accounting and reconciliation, it is important that the cause and effect of these value drivers is understood, and that a systematic control system be established. While a number of off-the-shelf solutions exist for this work, it is the contention of this paper that a full understanding of the metal flow, its variability, its underlying loss potential, and its control points is necessary before a systematic approach to reconciliation can be undertaken. The paper also advocates that this approach should ensure that the reconciliation system clearly addresses the reconciliation needs, within a consistent framework. Such a framework has been developed by AMIRA, in terms of a metal accounting code. However, up until now, this code has been aimed at plant processes, whereas this paper shows how the concept can be extended to cover the full reconciliation requirements for a base metal mine. <![CDATA[<b>Effects on entrainment of serpentines by hydrophobic flocs of ultra-fine copper-nickel sulphides during flotation</b>]]> Slime coating is one of the most common ways for serpentines to contaminate metallic mineral concentrates during traditional flotation of coarse sulphide particles. This could pose quite a complicated and challenging problem in the case of some types of low-grade and finely disseminated Cu-Ni ores bearing high serpentine contents. This is the case for the copper and nickel sulphides from the Yunnan Mine, China. Previous batch flotation tests of this ore resulted in satisfactory recoveries of 86.92% Cu, 54.92% Ni, and 74.73% Pt+Pd, and concentrate grades of 4.02% Cu, 3.24% Ni, and 76.61 g/t Pt+Pd. However, the MgO content in these concentrates was more than 19%. In the current study, microflotation tests and settling rate tests were introduced to investigate the effects of a combination of strong collectors (a 2:1 weight ratio of butyl xanthate and butyl ammonium dithophosphate) on entrainment of serpentines in metallic mineral concentrate, as well as visual observations of the concentrates in suspension using still photography. All test results indicated the presence of serpentines entrapped in the hydrophobic flocs that resulted from these collectors, even with the use of effective gangue depressants. These strong collectors are used to flocculate the ultra-fine sulphides by forming loose and 'fluffy' hydrophobic flocs. However, these hydrophobic flocs may also be able to load or entrap some serpentine slimes into the concentrate, and this entrained serpentine could be harder to remove by using depressants or intensified conditioning than serpentine slime coating on the particle surfaces. <![CDATA[<b>Smelting of calcined basic nickel carbonate concentrate in a 200 kW DC arc furnace</b>]]> Calcined basic nickel carbonate (BNC) concentrate was smelted in a pilot-scale DC arc furnace to produce a nickel metal. The furnace was continuously operated for 12 days (24 hour/day), during which twelve different smelting conditions were investigated, with the major variables being reductant type and feed rate, flux composition and addition, and BNC feed rate. The 200 kW DC arc furnace was operated at power levels between 110 and 165 kW and at a total feed rate of 78 to 96 kg/h, resulting in an average slag and metal tapping temperature of about 1650°C. A total of 7.2 t of BNC were smelted, producing about 5.44 t of nickel metal and 2.94 t of slag. Nickel recoveries of 96.4% and higher were achieved, and the slag nickel content was as low as 0.1%. The major impurities in the metal were iron (mostly from oxygen lancing) and carbon. The calculated feed carry-over was less than 0.85% and the graphite electrode consumption was between 2.8-3.3 kg/MWh. <![CDATA[<b>Comparison of physical properties of oxidative sintered pellets produced with UG2 or metallurgical-grade South African chromite: A case study</b>]]> The physical properties of oxidative sintered pellets produced from typical South African UG2 ore are compared with the physical properties of pellets produced with conventional South African metallurgical-grade chromite ore (from the Lower Group 6 or the Middle Group 1 and 2 seams). A statistical evaluation of the cured (sintered) compressive strengths proved that pellets prepared from UG2 ore are likely to have the same, or better, compressive strength than pellets prepared from metallurgical-grade chromite ore. The cured abrasion strength of the UG2 pellets was also superior to that of the metallurgical-grade pellets. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) backscatter, secondary electron, and elemental X-ray mapping were used to determine the reasons for the general superior strength of the UG2 pellets. The case study UG2 ore also required 13 kWh/t less energy for milling to attain the required particle size distribution prior to pelletization, which can lead to substantial cost savings. Results presented in this paper can be utilized by ferrochromium (FeCr) producers to better quantify the advantages and disadvantages associated with the use of UG2 ore for FeCr production. <![CDATA[<b>The influence of selected biomass additions on the co-pyrolysis with an inertinite-rich medium rank C grade South African coal</b>]]> Co-pyrolysis of four biomass samples (hardwood chip, softwood chip, pinewood chip, and sugarcane bagasse) with an inertinite-rich medium rank C South African coal was investigated. Proximate and ultimate analyses of the chars prepared using a heating rate of 10°C/min up to 1100°C in a nitrogen atmosphere were used to compare the properties of the biomass and the coal chars. Similar gross calorific values (28.5-29.1 MJ/kg) for the woody biomass-coal blended chars were observed, which were slightly higher than that of the coal char sample (26.5 MJ/kg). CO2 surface areas of the chars of the woody biomass samples (328.1-329.4 m2/g) and of the blends (238.5-271.5 m2/g) were higher than that of the coal char sample (94.2 m²/g). Thermogravimetric (TG), differential thermal analyses (DTG), and calculated weighted averaged TG curves indicated that the influence of the biomass on the pyrolysis rate of the coal is small and vice versa. The CO2-producing reactions of the coal were slightly enhanced during co-pyrolysis. <![CDATA[<b>Mine Occupational Safety and Health Leading Practice Adoption System (MOSH) examined - the promise and pitfalls of this employer-led initiative to improve health and safety in South African Mines</b>]]> This paper assesses the effectiveness of the Mine Occupational Health and Safety Leading Practice Adoption System (MOSH) and its potential to improve mine health and safety in South African mines. Developed by the Chamber of Mines, which represents the majority of the country's large scale mining employers, MOSH was devised to accelerate progress towards achieving health and safety milestones, which were set by tripartite agreement in 2003. The paper documents and builds on the findings of a study conducted by the Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry (CSMI) in 2011 that evaluated MOSH strategy, structures, and process of implementation. The study found that MOSH operated across the mining sector, was directed and dominated by experts and, despite best efforts to include other stakeholders, was led by employers. Statutory worker health and safety representatives and structures were not integrated into the complex change process developed by MOSH. The Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate (MHSI) and organized labour were ambivalent about direct involvement in MOSH and preferred regulatory measures to enforce the participation of mines. MOSH interventions were not targeted at mines with a poor health and safety record, and MOSH lacked a baseline from which to track impacts on sector-wide health and safety performance. The leading practices most widely adopted by mines were designed to improve, rather than fundamentally alter, existing practice. Although the depth of engagement with MOSH among stakeholders and on mine sites varied, mining companies, labour representatives, and the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate (MHSI) saw the programme as significant. <![CDATA[<b>Application of the attainable region technique to the analysis of a full-scale mill in open circuit</b>]]> The application of the attainable region (AR) technique to the analysis of ball milling is currently limited to batch data. This paper introduces the use of the technique to continuous milling. To this end, an industrial open milling circuit processing a platinum ore was surveyed. Samples were collected and later characterized by means of laboratory batch testing. On site, several milling parameters were varied systematically so as to collect data for modelling purposes. These paramters included ball filling, slurry concentration, and feed flow rate. After data analysis, a simulation model of the open milling circuit was developed under MODSIM®, a modular simulator for mineral processing operations. The mill was then simulated and the data generated was analysed within the AR framework. Initial findings reveal an opportunity to gain valuable insight by studying milling using the AR technique. From an exploratory perspective and inasmuch as this study is concerned, feed flow rate, ball size, and ball filling were identified as being pivotal for the optimization of open ball-milling circuits. Mill speed, on the other hand, had only a limited effect on the production of particles in the size range -75 +10 μm. <![CDATA[<b>Thermogravimetric investigation of macadamia nut shell, coal, and anthracite in different combustion atmospheres</b>]]> The combustion and co-combustion behaviour of macadamia nut shell, high-ash coal, and anthracite, along with their blends was studied using thermogravimetry. The reactivities of all samples were analysed in air, oxygen, and CO2 atmospheres and at different heating rates from 10 to 40°C/min. Macadamia shell was found to have a lower ash content, 0.36%, than coal with 27.49% ash. The calorific values were similar, 19.64 MJ/kg and 19.44 MJ/kg respectively. The differential thermogravimetric results indicate that as the heating rates increase the ignition, peak, and burnout temperatures increase significantly, leading to high combustion rates. The interaction between the fuels was evaluated using the weighted average model, and the results indicated that there is more synergetic interaction between 20% macadamia plus 80% coal under oxygen than in air and CO2 atmospheres. The results of the investigation provide the combustion and co-combustion characteristics of various samples and their blends and indicate their combustion compatibilities. <![CDATA[<b>Application of systemic flow-based principles in mining</b>]]> Mining value chains are dynamic systems and should be managed according to systemic flow-based principles. This includes a detailed focus on the impact of variable geological conditions on material flow, product quality, and production cost, visibility of the total mining system to operators and managers, as well as the synchronization of resources and activities in downstream processes. Thirty mining operations across the African continent were studied to establish to what extent systemic flow-based principles are applied in day-to-day operations. The study indicated that although most mining operations have identified the relevant geo-processing variables, only a small number apply this information in a flow-based management approach. Most mining operators do not focus on developing a clear flow view of the mining value chain and on making it visible to operators and managers to enable them to optimally set and reset operations. Daily synchronization of geoprocessing variables is limited to a small number of variables, e.g. synchronizing ore hardness with drilling or milling requirements, in less than 30% of the operations evaluated. Operations where these principles have been adopted reported a noteworthy improvement in performance. The study indicates that notable potential exists in most of the operations evaluated to implement flow-based management principles, including geometallurgical principles. This can significantly improve value chain performance without exorbitant capital layouts and enhance ROCE. <![CDATA[<b>Evaluating the coal bump potential for gateroad design in multiple-seam longwall mining: A case study</b>]]> This study proposes a methodology for evaluating the risk of coal bumps in multiple-seam longwall mining. Both the stress field and the total energy release (TER) during retreat were evaluated in the specified case involving multiple-seam mining using the LaModel program. The results of numerical simulations indicated that both the peak vertical stresses on the panel edges and the peak TERs in the outby longwalls increased significantly as the horizontal offsets were reduced from 60 m to zero. With the comprehensive consideration of the stress field and TERs, a conservative offset of 60 m was ultimately adopted when developing the gateroads of the lower panel in the field. The field measurements indicated that coal bumps were avoided completely by employing the proposed design, and the maximum roof-to-floor and rib-to-rib convergences of the tailgate during retreat were only 360 mm and 576 mm, respectively. <![CDATA[<b>Influence of medium particle size on the separation performance of an air dense medium fluidized bed separator for coal cleaning</b>]]> Dry beneficiation of coal by air dense medium fluidized bed is an emerging trend. It is widely believed that the particle size of the medium has a significant effect on the separation efficiency. This investigation demonstrates that medium particle size has a major effect on separation efficiency. Experimental results show that different size fractions of the same feed respond differently to the same size fraction of medium solids. Furthermore, a particular size fraction of feed coal responds differently with different size fractions of medium solids. The Ep values and overall metallurgical performance parameters, obtained from experimental results, clearly indicate the superior performance of an air dense medium fluidized bed separator when using -150+106 μηι magnetite powder as the fluidizing medium. These observations reinforce the importance of sizing the medium particle size for the air dense medium fluidized bed. <![CDATA[<b>Measuring and modelling of density for selected CaO-Al<sub>2</sub>O3-MgO slags</b>]]> The densities of selected CaO-Al2O3-MgO slag systems were measured at 1823K by the Archimedean method. Thirteen different slag compositions were chosen based on different levels of the MgO content and the mass ratio of CaO/Al2O3. The results indicated that the density of the slag decreases with increasing MgO content (from 0-3.78 mass%), but increases with further increases in MgO content up to 11.33 mass%. At a fixed MgO content of 5.5%, the trend of density change with CaO/Al2O3 in the slag is similar to that for changes in MgO content. On the basis of the regular solution approximation rules of excess molar quantities, an attempt was made to estimate the molar volume of the slags investigated. The application of the molar volume model confirmed that the present expanded approximation rules are applicable to predict the molar volumes of the melts discussed. <![CDATA[<b>Investigation of factors influencing blending efficiency on circular stockpiles through modelling and simulation</b>]]> The aim of a blending stockpile is to minimize the natural variation in properties of a material. Two simulation models were written, for coneshell and chevcon stacking, and used to investigate the influence of different stockpile parameters on blending efficiency. The coneshell model is used to show that blending efficiency is highly sensitive to stacked height, with lower output variances observed for higher capacities. Output variance in both models also decreased when the stacker movement increment was decreased. For chevcon stacking, increasing stacker speed significantly increases the blending efficiencies. Increasing the length of the blending tail also reduces output variation, but this parameter would need to be weighed against the accompanying decrease in buffer capacity. <![CDATA[<b>Investigation into strata behaviour and fractured zone height in a high-seam longwall coal mine</b>]]> The development of techniques and equipment for single-pass high-seam longwall mining in China is reviewed. Some methods used to obtain the fractured zone height are discussed. The boundary between the caved and fractured zones is generally not clear, but one important difference that distinguishes the two zones is that horizontal compressional forces exist only between blocks of fractured zone. Based on this, a theoretical method is presented to investigate the destabilizing modes of the main roof (by sliding or rotation) and is used to determine if the main roof is in the caved or fractured zone. This method considers the mining height, immediate roof thickness, bulking factor, main roof thickness, main roof strength, main roof periodic weighting interval, and vertical stress in the overlying strata. To verify the method, a representative physical model of Wangzhuang coal mine is developed. The movement of overlying strata and fractured zone height are thus obtained. According to the results, the total collapsed height of the strata reaches about 70 m above the coal floor; the first main roof bending interval is 45 m and periodic bending distance is 10-15 m; the maximum strata subsidence is around 62 mm; and the presence of a three-hinged arch causes the fluctuation of subsidence in the same stratum level. Based on the theoretical and experimental analysis, the middle of the main roof is considered the boundary between caved and fractured zone; the caved and fractured zone heights are about 21 and 49 m respectively. <![CDATA[<b>Parametric estimation of capital costs for establishing a coal mine: South Africa case study</b>]]> Capital cost estimates are important in decisions on whether a project will be approved, mothballed, or abandoned. In South Africa, junior coal miners do not have extensive databases of historical projects from which to estimate capital costs. The purpose of this paper is to establish formulae that can be used for estimating capital costs of developing coal mines in a coal-producing country, using South Africa as a case study. The costs are estimated to an error of magnitude level of -30% to +50%, which is suitable for a concept study level, using a parametric estimation technique. The study uses data from completed coal mining projects from selected coal-producing countries. Three formulae are developed and presented for estimating capital costs of underground bord and pillar, surface shovel and truck, and dragline operations.