Simulation of a grinding circuit change to reduce lead sliming

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 73, No. 816, 1980

J. RAMIREZ-CASTRO and J.A. FINCH McGill University, Montreal, Quebec

Galena is the finest component of the product of a closed-circuit grind treating a lead-zinc ore, largely due to preferential recycling of this high-density mineral by the cyclone. For example, at the Pine Point Mines concentrator, for —55% -200 mesh over-all, the galena will be close to 95% -200 mesh. This sliming of the lead can limit recovery, selectivity and dewater-ing. A proposed circuit modification to reduce the sliming is to incorporate a unit cell. A simulator was constructed to study the No. 3 grinding circuit at Pine Point modified by a unit cell on ball mill discharge (BMD).The simulator used a cumulative size basis rate-of-breakage with plug flow ball mill model, the parameters being obtained by laboratory grinding tests. Flotation and the cyclone models used a cumulative recovery/size matrix. The behaviour of each mineral, galena, sphalerite, pyrite and calcite/dolomite, was simulated. Simulation was adapted to a programmable calculator. A close fit to the existing circuit performance at two tonnages and mineral mixes was established.The simulator showed that the modified circuit could significantly coarsen the Pb grind, from 95% to —50% -200 mesh, depending on recovery, without substantially altering the size of the other minerals. The other principal findings were: compared to laboratory flotation tests on existing circuit BMD, the unit cell concentrate (CONC) will be coarser and markedly lower in grade; relatively low unit cell stage recoveries are desirable, because the cyclone scavenges the tail to give a circuit recovery which is higher than the unit cell stage recovery; unit cell stage recovery should not exceed the cyclone stage recovery, as the latter is the maximum circuit recovery; low unit cell stage recovery helps offset the disadvantage of the high flow at BMD; other high-density minerals will also be scavenged into the CONC, as illustrated by pyrite, making CONC quality difficult to maintain; density control of BMD flotation does not greatly alter feed density to the cyclone or ball mill.Possible plant metallurgy is forecast for a CONC diverted to final lead concentrate.
Keywords: Mineral processing, Simulation, Grinding circuits, Sliming, Lead sliming, Galena, Pine Point Mines Ltd., Ball mills, Cyclones, Flotation.