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Mining & Minerals

The range of unit operations and the complexity of mineral processing, pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical flowsheets encompassed by this industry is vast.
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ITHACA screenshot illustrating process liquor ponds as part of a dynamic heap leach simulation.

Furthermore, this industry is notoriously affected by varying feed characteristics, weather patterns and cyclical economics. With both the inputs and the targets moving, making accurate plant performance predictions even over the short-term is challenging.

Incorporating dynamic simulation into both the design and operating phases of these projects leads to a deeper understanding of plant response to time-varying inputs and process conditions, which in turn leads to better design and operational decision-making.

See the case studies below for some specific examples of the application of ITHACA® to these problems.

Example

Heap Leaching

A flowsheet incorporating a heap leach process is a classic candidate for analysis via dynamic simulation. The solid phase of each heap is leached in batches while the lixiviant solution operates continuously resulting in the concentration of leached species in solution varying, often significantly, over time. Solution tenor is further affected by rain events and evaporation rates, as are rates of reaction within each heap. On a week-to-week timescale this variability can affect the performance of downstream metal recovery processes, which typically operate best at steady-state. On a year-to-year timescale this variability in performance can and does impact project returns. Dynamic simulation can quickly highlight problematic stacking and irrigation schedules, as well as prompt a rethink of site-wide water and process solution management practices.

ITHACA screenshot presenting a heap leach model and graphical dynamic simulation output data.

Case Studies

ITHACA has been part of the solution for process industry problems since 2012. Read some examples of these to discover how ITHACA might help solve yours.

Image indicating that the identity of the mine water treatment case study is confidential.

Mine Water Treatment

The new owner of a mine site had significant legacy environmental issues to remedy prior to restarting the mine and process plant. Chief among these was how to manage several gigalitres of contaminated water held in a disused pit while at the same time using the pit to store newly generated tailings slurry. Weather events were also a source of concern due to the total catchment area draining into the pit far exceeding the free liquid surface area available for evaporation.

 

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ITHACA user Core Metallurgy's logo for the pilot plant simulation case study.

Pilot Plant Simulation

Core Metallurgy was commissioned to design, construct and operate a pilot-scale Toowong Process™ plant in 2012. The process removes arsenic from copper concentrates, increasing the concentrate’s value as a source of copper metal and reducing its environmental impact during subsequent processing. Core needed to be sure that the sampling schedule and control philosophy applied to the plant would not compromise results at this small scale.

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Core has used ITHACA on a wide range of processes, and found it to be invaluable for understanding the response of processes to changing inputs and conditions; it has become a critical tool for us in developing robust process designs for processes from pilot plants to full scale operations. ITHACA is a highly cost effective tool which I can recommend to any process engineer looking to reduce process risk and add value for their clients.

Dave Walker

General Manager, Core Metallurgy

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