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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X


BARTLETT, H.E.  and  LIEBENBERG, M.J.. Mine to metal: a practical balance for a large platinum producer. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2014, vol.114, n.1, pp.1-6. ISSN 2411-9717.

This paper deals with the sampling and mass measurement for ore delivered from a shaft to a processing plant and the contribution of the data from these measurements to the metal balances from shaft deliveries to final metal production. Accurate measurement of the grade and tonnage of run-of-mine ore is important for four main reasons; ► It enables the measurement of the production from different profit centres to within statistically determined confidence limits for daily, monthly, or annual averages. The profit centres could be individual shafts within a mining complex or ore treated on a toll basis ► The monthly production at shaft head is compared to the grades and tonnage determined from underground sampling and mass measurement in terms of a shaft call factor ► The sum of the production from the shafts is the input to concentrators. This input is a major part of the total input into a complex with concentrators, smelters, and refineries. In terms of the Codes of Practice for Metal Accounting the inputs are compared to outputs and inventory changes to assess the efficiencies and unaccounted losses or gains at the various stages in the flow of metal from source to market ► On a daily or daily moving average basis, the grades and tons from shafts are monitored and compared against these quantities from underground measurements. This acts as a control on off-reef mining, dilution, and other factors underground. Accurate measurement of grade of ore at the shaft head has been a challenge because of the large particle size. The conventional wisdom has been that ore can be sampled accurately only after it has been milled to give a slurry that is sampled as feed to a flotation process. However, when the ore fed to a flotation plant comes from multiple sources each source has to be sampled separately. So, relying on the grades determined using the sampling of concentrator input with cross-stream slurry samplers is not an option for determining the grade from an individual shaft. Impala has developed a system for sampling and weighing run-of-mine ore from multiple shafts. The system involves sampling the inputs to the plants using cross-belt (hammer) samplers and weighing the deliveries using in-motion railway weighing systems. Many samples are taken. Individually they have a high variance but, as a consequence of the averaging effect of large numbers and as shown by statistical analysis, the mean results are fit for the purposes of daily grade control for shafts and for monthly accounting of production from individual shafts. In the metal accounting systems at Impala, the measurement of input, including ore and toll-treated material is compared to the output in the form of final metal and tailings losses, as well as any inventory change that takes place, in order to determine a final metal balance from mill feed to product. The calculated inventory is compared to that measured, and the difference, or unaccounted- for metal, is then reported as a percentage of input. The balances obtained over several years yields balances for platinum that are below 1% imbalanced.

Keywords : metal balancing; platinum mines; AMIRA codes of practice; metal accounting; sampling; run-of-mine ore; statistical analysis.

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