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towards the development of an integrated modelling

towards the development of an integrated modelling

The minerals industry is currently facing numerous multifaceted challenges spanning the techno-economic, environmental and social spheres. The adoption of sustainability thinking is a holistic approach to addressing these challenges and their relative interactions, rather than just focusing on individual units and processes. The ability to do so requires an integrated modelling framework underpinned by mineralogy, so that the effect of ore complexity and variability on one or more of these factors can be simultaneously evaluated and optimised. This study focuses on the steps towards the development of an integrated framework using a case study of a polymetallic sulfide ore flotation circuit. A unique ore specific element to mineral conversion recipe (EMC) was developed and validated, and after subsequent mass balancing across the circuit allowed the calculation of mineral grade and recovery throughout. By application of a set of mineral mass distribution functions across the circuit, and including a simple mineral-based model for the determination of tailings ARD potential, the integrated framework is used for scenario analysis. Two different scenarios are presented: the first considering the balance between improving copper concentrate product quality at the expense of increasing tailings ARD potential, and the second considering the effect of feed ore variability on tailings ARD potential. The framework provides a conceptual starting point for a new approach to traditional process mineralogy studies to start practising sustainability thinking.

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