GTK’s Mineral Processing Laboratory provides a wide range of ore beneficiation research services for the mining industry. It offers a unique platform for the development and testing of energy-saving, low- environmental-impact crushing, grinding and concentration processes. The lab is equipped to develop mineral processing methods anywhere along the beneficiation chain from mineralogical analysis to dealing with process waste. Moreover, testing of promising methods can readily be ramped up from bench-scale to pilot-scale test campaigns – a capability virtually unmatched elsewhere in the world.
Our process mineralogy focus has made us a leader in mineralogical analysis in the development of concentration methods. Our new Mineral Liberation Analyser (MLA) has opened new possibilities to characterize products of concentration and smelting, environmental samples, as well as to assist in ore exploration and mine planning.
Process chemistry studies consider such sample properties as hydrophobia and electrode potential, as well as grindability and amenability to concentration processes. In addition to floatation methods, the laboratory has extensive experience with gravity separation, magnetic separation as well as dewatering and filtering methods, all of which can be tested for at mini-pilot and pilot scale. Minerals not conducive to traditional concentration methods can often be separated by hydrometallurgical methods (normal and high-pressure leaching). Bioleaching has been exploited extensively in concentration of base metals.
The material feed capacity of the minipilot is typically 10–20 kg per hour, an amount sufficient to get a rough estimate of process operation at full scale. The minipilot is built into a cargo container, so it can be shipped easily anywhere in the world for on-site testing.
The pilot plant allows study of many aspects of ore handling and concentration, including crushing, grinding, classification, gravity separation, dense media separation and magnetic separation, foam flotation and dewatering. As each aspect of beneficiation is optimized, it is incorporated into an efficient overall process. Advanced process control and data logging allow for automation of most aspects of the process. The pilot plant has a feed capacity of 0.5–5 tons per hour, so campaign results at pilot scale are typically sufficient to give an accurate idea of the concentration process yield and economic performance at full scale. The typical sample size used for a series of grindability and floatation tests is 100–300 tons.
The applicability of mineral processing to environmental remediation and recycling has been demonstrated on numerous occasions, e.g. remediation of contaminated soils and separation and recycling of metallurgical slags.