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Tag Archives: Mining
data integration leads to more efficient process control – mining and processing systems
modern mines employ technology and equipment that generate increasingly more data, such as geological databases, material handling monitoring systems, and enterprise systems. as efforts for developing information continue, an additional problem is arising: how to go from data accumulation, to creating knowledge, and to action that can save money and energy in an operation. new tools are needed to analyze these huge datasets to generate useful and actionable information.
researchers at the university of arizona will develop the core components of the iidea: an infrastructure for integrated data , environments and analysis. this is a set of methodologies, information models, software architectures, and analysis and simulation tools. this new mine engineering/ management toolbox is specifically for 1) analyzing mining data and processes, 2) generating process knowledge, and 3) designing and validating actions that would improve the mining system.
the project approach involves extracting, cleaning, and integrating data from multiple sources such as mine planning software, process monitoring systems, and enterprise systems.
automated controls or decision support tools need to be developed to translate this data into specific action strategies, . at a particular mine site, an iidea would be a networked set of computers with specialized software and data servers.
two test models will be developed and deployed at operating mines to prove that iidea can enable and facilitate the creation of highly effective process control. these models will include:
a small-scale materials handling energy consumption model (ecm) that calculates and reconciles the energy expenditure in the shovel/truck portio of a materials handling system. additionally, a large-scale ecm that calculates and reconciles the energy consumption in the production chain from the face through to the solution extraction / electro winning (sx/ew) plant.
mine-to-leach (m2l) process control model that tracks the variables of the production chain from face to leach- pad, and can identify changes in the mine that would improve performance of the heap leach process. programs to reduce the variability of blast results, define ideal fragmentation distribution, accurately measure fragmentation distribution, and track the flow of material, are just a few examples of m2l.
project description – mining and processing systems
objective: to lower energy costs in all phases of mining and processing through better monitoring and understanding of the production processes with an infrastructure for integrated data environments and analysis (iidea) modeling software for mining and processing systems.
the project addresses the common issue of being ‘data rich but information poor.’ this project’s technical objectives are twofold: 1)research and develop an infrastructure that will facilitate the development of data-driven improvements, and 2) test the iidea by creating and deploying process control models. the m2l and ecm models are used as a means to test the effectiveness of using an iidea.
the research team for this multidisciplinary project includes four universities, two software technology suppliers, and the largest u.s.
milestones – mining and processing systems
• track energy consumption of truck and shovel operations and conveyors
• test three iidea components: integrated data, analysis and validation
• develop a complete mine-to-leach optimization plan, and global ecm model from mine face to leach-pad
• expand iidea by incorporating multiple data types and sources
new robotic sensors will increase precision of excavating materials
underground mines are dark, cramped, and often full of airborne dust. they are also very rough and hazardous environments. under these conditions, operators drive equipment and excavate material often with requirements of high accuracy and precision. it is difficult for operators to see and accurately control mining equipment plus systems. visual cues are not available to aid the operators. automation and advanced control systems would increase productivity and decrease the health and safety hazards to mining workers.
sensors mounted on the mining equipment can accurately measure the machine’s position, orientation, and motion. these sensors will assist operators standing at a safe distance to precisely control the machine. increases in operating precision will increase productivity in underground mining and will decrease the health and safety hazards to mining workers. this technology can also feed information into a control system to permit semiautonomous operation, further reducing the risk to miners.
objective: to use advanced sensors mounted on underground mining equipment to increase the precision of material removal and thus reduce re-cuts and reduce the amount of energy used in hauling and excavating materials.
this project requires expertise in human factors engineering. it will evaluate the (1) interface between the new technology and operators, (2) navigation systems to provide direction and orientation information, (3) advanced control systems to guide the equipment and (4) robotic expertise to be able to implement advanced technologies in remote operations. basic robotic technology and expertise will be provided as well as facilities to conduct tests and simulate underground conditions. a test bed and a continuous miner will be used for testing prior to underground operation. final field trials will be conducted by actual machine operators in actual underground conditions on production equipment.
progress and milestones, this project includes the following activities:
• develop and mount prototype robotic sensors for testing • field test the sensors in an underground mine • analyze underground test results, and provide recommendations for methods to improve the interaction between the operator and the machine • develop prototype autonomous control system • conduct and report on further underground testing of the improved system
sbm mining machine
the sbm machine has a high degree of automation and is best suited for customers who want to do efficient cable recycling with a minimum of manpower. the investment cost is considerably higher than the basic sbm a unit, but your roi is realized in a very short time. cable is typically fed by a mobile crane, belt conveyor, or a fork lift truck with rotating forks into the hopper of the rough chopper. when the hopper is filled with material, the machine runs automatically for approx. 30 minutes before it needs to be re-fed. the storage bin automatically feeds the pre-chopped material into the granulator. armored cable can be processed in this configuration and the sbm machine comes with a very powerful large belt magnet.
the screening machine can be installed as an additional piece of equipment in all sbm plants and is placed after the separator process. there is always some copper in the insulation after the separation. the finer the wires within the cable, the larger the potential loss of copper. by means of a mechanical process, a larger part of the copper is recovered in the form of dust and fine wires. it is a simple yet efficient machine which pays for itself in about a year. it has two screen decks and classifies the material into three fractions (1) rough fraction–pure insulation, (2) middle fraction- insulation containing some copper which is automatically re-processed, (3) fine fraction – copper dust and fine wires.
copper beneficiation may consists of: crushing and grinding, washing, filtration, sorting and sizing, gravity concentration, flotation, roasting, autoclaving, chlorination, dump and in situ leaching, ion exchange, solvent extraction, electrowinning, and precipitation. crushing and grinding is the most energy intensive.
the methods selected vary according to ore characteristics and economic factors. approximately half of copper beneficiation occurs through dump leaching, while a combination of solvent extraction, froth flotation, and electrowinning is generally used for the other half. often, more than one metal is the target of beneficiation activities.
according to epa’s office of solid waste technical resource document, copper is increasingly recovered by solution methods including dump and in situ leaching. because most copper ores are insoluble in water, chemical reactions are required to convert copper into a water-soluble form. copper is recovered from a leaching solution through precipitation by sx/ew. solution beneficiation methods account for approximately 30 percent of domestic copper production. two-thirds of all domestic copper mines use some form of solution operations. typical leaching agents used in solution beneficiation are hydrochloric and sulfuric acids. microbial (or bacterial) leaching is used for low-grade sulfide ores; however, this type of leaching is much slower than standard acid leaching. its use is still being piloted.
hydrometallurgical copper recovery is the extraction and recovery of copper from ores using aqueous solutions. hydrometallurgical operations include the following:
(1) acid extraction of copper from oxide ores;
(2) oxidation and dissolution of sulfides in waste rock from mining or in situ ore bodies (e.g., low grade oxide and sulfide mine wastes);
(3) dissolution of copper from concentrates to avoid conventional smelting. in summary, the copper-bearing ore (and in some cases, the overburden) is leached, then the copper is recovered from the pregnant leachate through precipitation, sx/ew.
dump leaching is the simplest form of hydrometallurgical beneficiation of low-grade ores, waste rock, and overburden practiced at large, open-pit copper mines. dump leaching is a method of treating copper ore that has been extracted from a deposit. this method refers to the leaching of oxide and low-grade sulfide ore on typically unlined surfaces. these operations involve the application of leaching solution, which is usually a dilute sulfuric acid solution, collection of pregnant leach solution (pls), and extraction of copper by sx/ew or cementation. natural precipitation or mine water is generally used to leach low-grade sulfide ore, while dilute sulfuric acid is commonly used to leach oxide ores. copper dump leaches are massive, ranging in height from 20 to hundreds of feet, covering hundreds of acres and containing millions of tons of ore. dump leaching operations may take place over several years.
there are several other types of leaching operations: in situ, heap or pile, vat, and heat or agitated leaching. in some cases, roasting is employed prior to leaching in order to enhance the leachability of the material. in roasting, heat is applied to the ore which enhances its amenability to leaching without destroying the physical structure of the ore particles. the roasted material is then subjected to leaching as described above. the copper-rich leachate, referred to as “pregnant solution,” is subjected to further beneficiation while the waste material is either left in place (in the case of dump, in situ, heap, or pile leaching) or managed in tailing ponds (as in vat, heat, or agitated leaching). the major potential environmental impact of hydrometallurgical beneficiation involves acid seepage into the ground. in addition, hydrometallurgical sludges may contain undissolved metals, acids, and large quantities of water.
copper is removed from the pregnant leachate through either iron precipitation (or cementation) or solvent extraction and electrowinning. in cementation, once the most popular method for recovering copper from the pregnant leachate, the leachate is combined with detinned iron in a scrap iron cone or vibrating cementation mill where the iron replaces the copper in the solution. the copper precipitates are removed for subsequent pyrometallurgical processing.
in solvent extraction, now the most popular process, an organic chemical (chelator) that binds copper but not impurity metals is dissolved in an organic solvent (often kerosene). the chemical is then mixed with the pregnant leach solution. the copper-laden organic solution is separated from the leachate in a settling tank. sulfuric acid is then added to the pregnant organic mixture, which strips the copper into an electrolytic solution ready for electrowinning. the barren leachate (or raffinate) is sent back to the leaching system. electrowinning is the recovery of copper from the loaded electrolyte solution produced by solvent extraction, yielding refined copper metal. the copper-poor (or lean) electrolyte from electrowinning is returned to the sx plant. excess lean electrolyte from the sx unit is returned to the raffinate pond to be recycled into the leaching circuit. filter clay is used to filter the electrolyte. impurities left on the bottom of the electrowinning cells are referred to as “muds” or “slimes.” both this anode sludge and lead anodes that are no longer usable are periodically removed from the cells and sent to lead smelting facilities for resource recovery. electrowinning is functionally equivalent to electrolytic refining, but differs in that electrowinning uses a permanent, insoluble anode.
the sbm a is a professional turn-key mini plant with the substantial capacity to process 1,200-2,500 lbs per hour with mixed cable depending on size and yield. one can expect approximately 120,000 lbs per month with a one-shift operation. this estimate includes maintenance downtime for blade changing and lubrication. the granulator is equipped with a 50 hp motor but can be upgraded to 62 hp. the power requirement is 100 amps, three phase 480v. the mini plant is shipped in a 20 ft. container with minimal on-site assembly required. final installation assistance and training is provided by the factory.
in spite of the compact size of the plant, the granulator has an inner width of 20” which facilitates the easy conveyor feeding of the machine. the cable should be pre-sorted for maximum output and in certain cases pre-cut, if not flexible by means of a hand cutter or alligator shears. smaller plastic cable spools, coils, bundles, and rat’s nests can be fed directly onto the in-feed belt conveyor.
the extended sbm machine is a highly efficient plant which uses the sbm a basic unit and adds a pre-chopper with an automatic storage bin feeder. the 75 hp rough chopper chops all types of cable, even those with armor, and has the capability to process approximately 240,000 lbs per month with a one-shift operation. it is shipped in a 40 ft container with assistance of the final assembly/ installation and training provided by the factory. the power requirement is 200 amps, three phase, 480v and maximum power consumption of 130 hp.