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Petrophysical characterization of comminution behavior
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Abstract
Comminution or feed size reduction is typically the first stage of ore processing at mines.
Comminution tests are commonly conducted to assess the processing behavior of ore and
to aid in process design and equipment selection. Testing for Bond mill work index
(BMWi), a measure of the ore grindability, and A*b, a measure of the ore crushability, is
common in this regard. These destructive tests are expensive and time consuming and,
hence, are conducted on a limited number of large volume samples which in most cases
are not representative of the entire orebody. Therefore alternative means are desirable for
efficiently characterizing comminution behavior.
Petrophysical properties have the potential for effective characterization of ore
comminution behavior for a truly representative suite of samples. Petrophysical
measurements are quick, nondestructive, and relatively cheap. Petrophysical data can be
recorded either downhole or on core. If calibrated against measures of ore crushability
and grindability, petrophysicallybased models could provide virtually continuous
downhole prediction of comminution attributes in intervals of drill holes where these
parameters are not available. This thesis presents a new approach for characterization of
ore comminution behavior based on petrophysical measurements.
As an alternative to downhole geophysical logging, a Geotek multisensor core logger
(MSCL) was evaluated. Density, Pwave velocity, Pwave amplitude and magnetic
susceptibility, as well as core imagery, were measured on drill cores from two Australian
coppergold deposits, namely CadiaEast, NSW, and Ernest Henry, QLD. The Geotek
system had never previously been used at metalliferous mines. It provides data with
acceptable accuracy if carefully and systematically calibrated but the data quality is
adversely affected by the small size and condition of the core. The accuracy achieved in
production logging was approximately ±1.35% for density, ±6.5% for Pwave velocity,
and ±1% for magnetic susceptibility.
The relationships between petrophysical properties and comminution attributes (A*b and
BMWi) was directly investigated, since smallscale comminution tests had been
performed on selected 2m intervals of the same drill core. At Cadia East, the ore is hard
in terms of both crushing and grinding. At Ernest Henry the ore is more variable but
generally softer.In most cases the relationship between petrophysical properties and comminution
parameters is dependent on ore type. Hence classbased approaches for comminution
modeling were devised and implemented. Crushability (A*b) can be related to
petrophysical properties more reliably than grindability (BMWi). This is consistent with
the fact that petrophysical properties and crushability are measured on whole rock while
BMWi is measured on crushed composite samples. Prediction of high BMWi materials
(>10 kWh/t) proved difficult, perhaps because particles are more competent at crushed
size.
An important outcome is that magnetic susceptibility is a good indicator of A*b at both
sites and can be used to define different comminution domains. At Ernest Henry, as
susceptibility increases A*b increases (samples are easier to crush) because magnetite
acts as crack initiator. At Cadia East, ore becomes harder to crush as susceptibility
increases; the association of feldspar with magnetite was most probably the reason for the
low values of A*b in this case.
At Ernest Henry, models were developed for prediction of A*b and BMWi values in
depth intervals where petrophysical measurements are available but comminution test
data are not. Four petrophysical classes were defined based on Pwave velocity, Pwave
amplitude, density and susceptibility using cluster analysis. Regression models were
developed for A*b and BMWi using petrophysical properties for each class. The overall
root mean square (RMS) error of prediction for BMWi and A*b are 1.39 kWh/t and 27.3
respectively.
Comminution modeling at Cadia East was difficult due to the limited variability of
comminution parameters. Four classes were defined based on variability of A*b and
BMWi around their respective mean values. A*b and BMWi were then linked to
petrophysical properties and assays using a neural network approach. The performance of
neural networks for prediction of comminution classes was tested by successively treating
each hole as an independent hole. The prediction accuracy ranged from 51% to 77%.
A novel approach for prediction of petrophysical properties and comminution attributes
from core images was also investigated at Ernest Henry. Estimates of mineral abundance
from classified core images were first adjusted to achieve compatibility with assay data.
Bulk density was then predicted from mineral volumes and densities with a relative error
of prediction of 3.5%. Regression coefficients for A*b and BMWi were estimated for
each mineral phase via least squares optimization. This method provides a means for prediction of A*b and BMWi in depth intervals where classified imagery is available but
comminution test data are not. The RMS errors of prediction for A*b and BMWi are 33.3
and 1.68 kWh/t respectively.
The two case studies from different geological environments show that petrophysical data
can provide useful information for characterization of comminution behavior and hence
prediction of mill throughput. Petrophysicsbased comminution models have limitations
but they are adequate for use during process planning. The accuracy of such models can
be improved by reducing uncertainties in petrophysical and comminution measurements,
refining data classification techniques, by increasing the number of petrophysical
properties recorded, and by incorporating other data including assays in the analysis.
Item Type:  Thesis  PhD 

Authors/Creators:  Vatandoost, A 
Keywords:  Geometallurggy, Geometallurgical modelling, Petrophysics, Comminution, Geotek logger, Core logging 
Additional Information:  Copyright © the Author 
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