Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
High pressure grinding rolls (HPGR) technology has come a long way in its application for comminution duty in hard rock mineral processing in the last three years. Several major projects in copper, nickel, gold, molybdenum, platinum, and iron ore have opted for this technology. Advances in wear abatement technology have established the HPGR as a reliable machine with the required high utilization and availability. The HPGR captures the imagination as the next step change improvement in ore processing, based on the following benefits: • Energy efficiency (potentially 10-30% more efficient)-very topical in an increasingly 'green' society, and in times of rapidly increasing energy costs and availability concerns. 2008 has shown this to be especially important in Southern Africa • High (and stable) throughput with a relatively small footprint • Lower operation cost • Liberation benefits • Creative 'mine-to-metal' system improvements made possible by HPGR. The platinum industry, renowned for its historically conservative approach, has not been left behind with two significant new HPGR installations, one in Platreef application and one in UG2 application, commissioned in 2008. While the decision for the Platreef application was driven primarily by comminution circuit capacity and design imperatives, the UG2 application seeks to develop a flowsheet that will have a significant recovery benefit in addition to capacity increase and reduced operating cost. The Platreef application of HPGR also provides the opportunity to introduce a novel comminution flowsheet and to demonstrate exceptionally low wear rates treating very hard, abrasive and variable ore types. The HPGR lends itself for inclusion in existing SABC circuits to increase the capacity of the plant and mills. With current PGM prices many operations are attracted to the HPGR technology benefits. The HPGR clearly has the potential to transform entrenched opinion and provide decision makers with significant alternative comminution options. This paper aims to provide an overview of the current applications and to speculate on the transforming stimulus that the HPGR exerts on industry.