Sponsored by: Nasaco International

Operational Mineralogy Improves Recovery Analytically

Nasaco International. provides solutions for mineral processing operations. Our experienced engineers focus on providing solutions for mineral recovery problems by utilising targeted mineralogical analysis. Nasaco delivers precise blends and formulations for collectors, frothers, depressants, flocculants and modifiers which are customised for applications specific to your processing plant needs.

When a mineral processing operation encounters a reduction of performance
where the efficiency of mineral recovery or the quality of concentrate falls below
expectations, they normally resort to a haphazard tweak-test-tweak-test then
repeat approach using baked-in corrections that might have worked in previous
recovery operations. This type of shotgun approach to problem solving is not only
time consuming and wasteful, but it also does not root out the specific
mineralogical problem. Precisely identifying the mineralogical cause for process
limitations enables operations to adjust the process with targeted solutions and
enhance recovery without the trial-and-error approach. Nasaco’s Operational
Mineralogy methodology does just that.

More than half of the country’s coal mines are managed by pro-Russian separatist militia.Credit: DmyTo/Shutterstock.

More than half of the country’s coal mines are managed by pro-Russian separatist militia.

Credit: DmyTo/Shutterstock.

Techniques like quantitative scanning electron microscopy, which is a tried and true technology for identifying the gangue minerals in flotation concentrates, were previously only available to mineralogical researchers. Operational Mineralogy turns these advanced techniques into operational tools for completing in-situ mineralogical analysis.

After an operation detects a recovery problem, a Nasaco engineer samples process streams throughout the plant including feed, concentrate, trailing, and waste streams. The engineer then completes an “bulk modal” analysis to identify which minerals are present in each stream. This preliminary investigation guides the engineer in creating an improvement plan. Next, using Nasaco’s proprietary software, an in-depth, second stage analysis is completed as a starting point for dialling in solutions to improve the process at hand.

Of course, knowing the exact mineralogy of the ore does not improve recovery in and of itself. Operational Mineralogy makes enhanced recovery reality by improving the quality of concentrates. It addresses the mineral composition and mechanical structures with reagents and other chemicals prescribed for the exact ore in question. The secondary and more complicated analysis not only identifies minerals with precision, it also generates practical solutions for the efficient liberation of each mineral.

Nasaco’s Operational Mineralogy goes beyond compositional analysis. It also takes a whole-plant approach to implementing solutions. Engineers evaluate the current reagent and chemical schedules to determine how well the current process is working. The goal is to highlight areas where recovery is most successful and keep them. Engineers isolate the bottleneck points and focus on implementing solutions at pinch points where the current process has hit its limitations.

In order to eliminate the “trial and error” approach to recovery problems, Operational Mineralogy distinguishes itself with its ability to provide economical solutions for those pinch points. Using hard data, process improvements and alternative chemicals are proposed. Focused laboratory testing evaluates the recommended solutions for efficacy and more importantly, practical implementation.

Nasaco CEO Simon Isherwood explains, “Successful testing at this stage usually leads to a plant executing solutions that give a metallurgical result that is economical and can be realistically implemented.” Process solution testing is completed either at a customer’s site or at Nasaco’s South African laboratory which boasts three Automated SEM units from the Field Electron and Ion Company to complete Mineral Liberation Analysis.

In addition to precise mineralogy, engineers have expertise and experience in prescribing chemical and reagent formulation and blends. As a result, they can collaborate with an operation to design and provide custom formulations and blends of specific products tailored to a plant’s applications. Mineral processing plants benefit from the continuous support of through Operational Mineralogy services.

“The most obvious gains are in the metallurgical performance, improved recovery, improved quality of concentrate, and reduction of undesirable species, whether they are trace elements or gangue minerals,” Simon further clarifies.

However, the benefits are not just about improving concentrate composition. Improvements provided by Operational Mineralogy impact an entire mineral processing operation. Isherwood adds, “Changing or modifying a collector and frother suites often improves recovery, but is also reduces pH, uses a less hazardous product, reduces the amount of gangue floated and enhances the selectivity of the actual collector and frother suite by using a co-depressant.”

Contact information

Tel: + 41 21 863 0310