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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717

Abstract

MACFARLANE, A.S.  and  WILLIAMS, T.P.. Optimizing value on a copper mine by adopting a geometallurgical solution. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2014, vol.114, n.11, pp. 929-935. ISSN 2411-9717.

This paper describes how knowledge of the orebody morphology and ore morphology can be used to optimize the planning, mining, and metallurgical output from an open pit copper mining operation, such as to significantly increase the stability of the whole value chain process, and increase the reliability and value of the process outputs. In the case under consideration, the orebody contains both copper and cobalt. This in itself provides a challenge, in that the two metals do not occur in consistent ratios across the orebody as a whole. Furthermore, mineralogical differences within the orebody have a significant impact on plant performance in terms of throughput rates, acid consumption, and recoveries. In order to stabilize and optimize the plant performance, it is necessary to firstly have a complete understanding of the geometallurgical factors that affect performance, and then to have a sound knowledge of how these are distributed within the orebody. These models then inform the mine planning strategy that optimizes cash flow and NPV, and also allow the development of a stockpiling strategy that not only stabilizes the plant, but also allows variations in the plant feed according to ore type and grade in volatile price scenarios. Integral to the realization of these opportunities is the establishment of an appropriate measuring, control, and reconciliation system, customized to the optimization objectives. The paper describes how all of these factors and strategies can be integrated to produce optimal value from the orebody through to final dispatched product. It also shows the significant value that can be released through such an approach.

Keywords : Central African Copperbelt; Ruashi; morphology; geometallurgy; cut-off grades; stockpile management.

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