Real-time grade estimation and online acceptance or rejection of mined material

by Preetham Nayak

Institution: University of British Columbia
Department: Mining Engineering
Degree: Master of Applied Science - MASc
Year: 2015
Record ID: 2060872
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/52143


The mineral industry is currently challenged by low metal prices and depletion of high grade resources with increasing depth combined with complex geology. Achieving profits in-spite of these difficulties has been challenging and the standard industry response to tackle the situation is by pursuing economy of scale. Only large scale companies can adopt this method due to the high capital investment involved. The alternate solution is to recognize and introduce low cost mining and mineral processing methods. The current research aims at increasing profitability of a mining operation by efficiently utilizing the mineral resource and increase the recovery. The research focuses on exploiting inherent heterogeneity in an orebody with the development of a sophisticated tool that can perform real time, with online analysis and decision support systems to designate the destination of the material being mined. The research includes measuring and modeling a deposit’s heterogeneity at both BHP Billiton’s Spence and Escondida mines. This is followed by the development of two digital models to evaluate the opportunity to adopt selective partitioning of ore, prior to hauling the mined material to the mill. An apparent increase in profitability is observed due to increased ore recovery. Determining and exploiting this heterogeneity offers different insights in orebody grade distribution, evaluating resources and reserves and production planning, all leading to more complete utilization of the resource.