XPS’s successfully addresses three unique challenges in metallurgical testing
Flowsheet development for Ivanplat’s Kamoa copper project
XPS is at the forefront of High Confidence Flotation Testing (HCFT) technology, developing techniques that have helped reduce project scale-up risk with our clients. Recent work done by XPS on Ivanplats’s Kamoa project integrated minimum sample mass and safety-line models into common HCFT practice, along with new sampling models for drill core, to successfully address the problem of limited samples. XPS worked with Ivanplats to gather a truly representative ore sample that was studied using our installed Electron Microprobe and FEG QEMSCAN to produce highly detailed mineralogical information from which critical metallurgical processing implications were formulated.
A new approach was used on the development of the flowsheet at Kamoa where the initial grinding strategy used the mineralogical data, saving both time and sample material by engaging appropriate grinds in the first tests. This avoided the typical practice of hunting test-by-test for the ideal grind. The XPS Mixed Collector system then selected candidate collectors from the data, resulting in accurate, rapid flowsheet development and delivering better grades and recoveries. The continued use of HCFT produced tighter metal balances as a result of the improved sampling and subsampling practice.
The hypogene ore carried a range of copper sulphides including chalcopyrite, bornite and chalcocite with minor covellite, occurring at a very small mean grain size of seven to 27 microns. Because it would be uneconomical to grind ore down to these sizes to deliver good liberation before flotation, a strategy to float both middling and liberated copper sulphides in a staged grind format was formulated. This was compared to a conventional approach and produced much improved grade and recovery.
A mixed collector suite optimized for flotation of middling particles was essential for the successful flotation of this range of sulphides. The optimized collector suite proved to be successful at floating liberated and middling particles to rougher and scavenger concentrates from the primary circuit.
The process resulted in a milestone flowsheet producing improved concentrate grades and recoveries that warranted the launch of the project prefeasibility study less than one year from initial sample selection and delivery.
Successful Chromite Ring of Fire Smelting Campaign
XPS successfully conducted a pilot chromite smelting campaign using its state-of-the-art 350 kW DC Electric Arc Furnace for KWG resources on their Ring of Fire ore deposit in northern Ontario. The campaign successfully demonstrated two critical pilot testwork goals. First, that high recovery and consistent grade during a continuous run of the ore was achievable and comparable to initial short duration tests (also conducted at XPS); and second, that tests on larger samples performed using larger-scale equipment was consistent with expectations.
Making optimum use of the limited amount of sample material was of primary concern to KWG. Results were announced by KWG at the conclusion of the continuous smelting campaign. “The results confirmed that very high chromium recoveries averaging 95 per cent can be achieved, producing ferrochrome alloy grades of 60 to 62 per cent chromium,” states Moe Lavigne, KWG’s VP of exploration and development.
The test demonstrated that Black Horse massive chromite can be efficiently smelted in a DC furnace using moderate flux and reductant additions and manageable operating temperatures. “These are the highest grade ferrochrome results we’ve seen from Ring of Fire chromites,” says Lavigne.
Unique Advanced Reserve and Resource Modeling
Recently, XPS had the opportunity to work closely with a client to support geological modeling and ore reserve/resource estimation of a complex footwall ore body in northern Ontario. This particular ore region is a narrow-vein mining environment where massive copper-rich veins are erratic and often very challenging to model and interpret. This type of geological modeling represents an expansion of services from typical mineralogical analysis and geometallurgical support projects and is typically carried out by XPS geoscientists.
XPS relied on its sound analytical principles and extensive experience for detailed process review, process improvement and project execution in the field.
The challenge of the project was to take a historical polygonal reserve/resource estimate and help transform it into a dynamic 3D working model that could be more readily used for mine planning, grade control, forecasting and longer-term strategic planning. Working closely with site geologists and senior personnel, XPS reviewed existing methodologies and interpretations to complete an updated ore reserve/resource estimate.
The diversity and challenge of this effort was typical of what our clients bring to XPS.
XPS is a licensed metallurgical engineering, technology and test services business offering industry leading expertise in orebody characterisation, flowsheet development, operational support, growth initiatives, and asset integrity management for most commodities including gold, nickel, copper, zinc, PGEs, rare earth and industrial minerals.
Within our 70,000-square-foot technology centre, more than 50 industry proven engineers and technicians continue to develop products and solutions in response to operational needs of our customers.
XPS services to clients include plant support, improving operational efficiency, and greenfield/brownfield project development through five distinct but integrated business groups representing the following key disciplines:
Process Mineralogy – Services include Geomet Unit definition and sampling, ore characterisation studies, flowsheet development and optimization, including batch and continuous mini-pilot plant-testing, process engineering consulting, and grinding process modeling.
Extractive Metallurgy – Hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical expertise with a fully equipped laboratory to address metallurgical needs through on-site plant support, bench or pilot-scale test work, flowsheet and process design, process/simulation modeling and venture analysis studies.
Process Control – Advanced expertise in process control for mining, mineral and metallurgical processes around the world. Our focus is “best practices” process control to improve plant performance.
Materials Technology – Dedicated to improving the reliability of critical equipment using proven materials engineering practices at essential stages of design, procurement and operation. We have extensive experience at mine sites, concentrators, smelters, refineries, leaching plants and acid plants.
Plant Support – On-site technical assistance from a group of experienced metallurgists is available to assist with commissioning, process optimization, process review and de-bottlenecking, project management, troubleshooting, concentrate marketing development, plant surveys, sampling and modeling.