A collaborative study with Australian mining companies BHP, Norton Gold Fields and Saracen on the integration of screening and particle sorting techniques could deliver benefits across the resource sector. The Integrated Screening and Particle Sorting Collaborative (ISPS) Study aims to develop a robust and scientifically rigorous framework for collecting, testing and reporting results for integrated screening and particle sorting techniques in a variety of ore domains.

The study, which began in August 2019, is currently under way at BHP’s Cliffs mine, Norton Gold Fields’ Paddington Gold site and Saracen’s Carosue Dam operation in Western Australia. It is expected the study will further expand during its 15-month tenure to include two additional sites.

CRC ORE ISPS Study Program Manager and Discipline Lead of Metallurgical Engineering at Curtin University’s Western Australian School of Mines Dr. Laurence Dyer said the opportunity existed to use particle sorting to upgrade ores.

“Trials have recently been conducted at several gold mining operations in the Goldfields region of Western Australia,” Dr. Dyer said.

Dyer said usually what isn’t taken into consideration is the benefit of assessing the natural deportment of metal to a size fraction through grade-by-size screening test work.

“Missing this step has two impacts. Firstly, there is a risk that particle sorting test results will be misinterpreted as being representative of the full sample without considering the mass balance impact of high-grade material that might have been lost in the fine fraction. This fine fraction will not be detected through the particle sorter.

“Secondly, the opportunity may exist to upgrade feed first through determining if there is a concentration of high grade to the fine (or coarse) fraction, which can be separated through screening. Undertaking screening in the preparation stage of the particle sorting process will enable analysis and separation of the fine or coarse fractions of a rock mass,” he said.

Dyer said the study outcome would be a blueprint for understanding the opportunity for upgrading ore feed, including an assessment of operational impacts, economic valuation and implementation approaches.

“CRC ORE will benefit from developing a broader understanding of the application and opportunity for applying particle sorting on a range of deposit types and integrating this with natural deportment grade-by-size screening opportunities to maximise value for mining operations.”

Dyer said the ISPS study would be conducted through CRC ORE’s Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mining Innovation Hub and Curtin University’s Western Australian School of Mines.

More information on the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mining Innovation Hub can be found at kalhub.com, while details on CRC ORE’s research can be found at crcore.org.au.