From research to process design

GTK’s Mineral Processing Unit offers mining companies ore beneficiation studies for assessing ore deposits and drawing up profitability calculations, starting from laboratory testing and extending all the way to campaigns at pilot plant. The research portfolio includes thorough mineralogical studies for ore and concentrates as well as chemical analyses. Our research reports will be available for clients to use in ore deposit profitability studies.

If necessary, we can also assist our clients in basic process design, such as in drawing up a process flowsheets, dimensioning equipment, assessment of utilisation and investment costs, as well as drawing up a layout plan. In such cases, the initial data for design has usually been obtained with a pilot run utilising the client’s materials. Sometimes a preliminary plan can also be made

Over the years, we have studied a versatile range of ores and other materials. Most important of them are:

  • Gold ores
  • Platinum (PGM) ores
  • Nickel and nickel-copper ores
  • Porphyry copper ore
  • Complex sulphide ores (Cu, Zn, Pb)
  • Phosphates
  • Iron ores
  • Industrial minerals (talcum, calcite, ilmenite, anorthosite, pegmatites, etc.)
  • Diamond ores
  • Metallurgic precipitate and slag
  • Recycled materials and contaminated soil
  • Mineral coal

We utilise chemical analytics and mineralogical surveys when studying the consistency and structure of ores, other raw materials, and processed products. In mineralogy surveys, we utilise a modern MLA system (Mineral Liberation Analyser) connected to an electron microscope, other microscopes (photo-optic, fluorescence-based and IR-based), an x-ray diffractometer, and other necessary equipment. If necessary, precious metals of low concentration (Au and PGMs) can be concentrated by means of hydro or heavy liquid separation before preparing microscopic samples.

Our laboratory activities include grinding tests (autogenous grinding included) and beneficiation tests utilising a variety of methods (flotation, magnetic separation, specific weight separation, and heavy medium separation). Hydrometallurgic testing methods include acid leaching, pressure leaching and cyanidation (gold ores). Furthermore, we have recently focused on using bioleaching in extracting metals from ores and slag. We also utilise beneficiation and leaching product thickening and filtering tests. For laboratory studies, samples ranging from a couple of dozen kilograms to several hundreds kilograms are needed (usually drill core samples).

The initial data required in process design and profitability calculations can be most reliably obtained from a pilot study. For a pilot run, approximately 50–300 tonnes of samples are needed, sometimes up to a couple of thousand tonnes. Crushing feeding capacity is 10–40 tonnes per hour and in the grinding/beneficiation circuit 0.5–5 tonnes per hour. Our testing factory includes a versatile selection of equipment for all unit processes, such as crushing, homogenisation, grinding, classification, flotation, magnetic separation, gravity, heavy medium separation, thickening, and filtering. We have modern instrumentation and a process computer for process control and collection of measuring data. We use an online analyser to measure basic metal concentrations directly from slurry flows.

An alternative for continuous test runs is a minipilot system built inside a transport container. The sample size required for a minipilot run is 0.5–2 tonnes. The equipment includes a grinding/classification circuit and a flotation circuit. Their feeding capacity is 10–50 kilograms per hour. The minipilot container can also be taken for a test run to an already existing plant.

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