CODES – ARC Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits

GEOMETALLURGY MODULE

LEADER: Anita Parbhakar-FoxAnita Parbhakar-Fox

The main objective of this Module is to transform how explorers and miners plan and predict mining and environmental activities, by providing new tools to guide these activities from the initial discovery stage through the life of the project.

This is achieved through the integration and utilisation of geological, metallurgical, environmental and economic information to maximise the value of an ore body, while minimising technical and operational risk. Through a holistic approach, it identifies attributes that contribute to the realised value of a resource, and enables ore variability to be factored into the flowsheet, infrastructure design, and the production and quality forecasts over the life-of-mine. This includes traditional attributes, such as grade, as well as less traditional factors such as concentration of deleterious elements, hardness (crushability, grindability), mineral species and abundance, mineral liberation, metallurgical recovery, acid generating potential, neutralising potential and smelter enabling characteristics.

Geometallurgy uses integrated tools, methods and knowledge, with an emphasis on ore body knowledge, which can be utilised in mining and mineral processing. A key component is linking geology and mineral processing as inputs into mine planning, optimisation and ultimately valuation.

GeMIII and Links to TMVC

Over the past decade, the extent of research related to geometallurgy has significantly increased, spurred mainly by an increased interest in the discipline by the minerals industry. This increase in industry involvement led to the large AMIRA P843 and P843A (GeMIII) collaborative projects that ran from 2005 to 2013 and were successful in developing an array of geometallurgical methods and protocols in the areas of mineralogy, comminution and flotation – which were subsequently tested on case study sites in active mines.

Although the GeMIII project has come to a successful conclusion, this work is continuing to be developed within the Geometallurgy Module. A large part of this research is also being carried out under the Optimising Geometallurgical Prediction Theme, which is one of the three research themes established within the ARC's Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Transforming the Mining Value Chain (TMVC).

CRC ORE ll

The Australian Government has extended the tenure of the Co-operative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE) for a further six years. CODES is an Essential Research Participant in this extension, which ensures that the status of geometallurgy as one of the Centre’s three research Modules is considerably strengthened.

The key challenge for CRC ORE II is to address the declining productivity in the minerals industry, which is partly due to the propensity for mining companies to focus on quantity over quality during the previous mining boom. CODES’ expertise in areas such as ore deposit modelling, postgraduate training and ore characterisation will play a key role in the outputs of the CRC over its extended tenure.

The research performed by CRC ORE II is split into five programs: Define, Separate, Extract, Control, and Operate, with CODES working within the Define Program, which has the main objective of improving feed quality. There are still one or two administrative processes to be finalised for this collaboration, but it is expected that these will be completed by the end of 2016, with CODES involvement in the CRC increasing significantly in 2017.