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Scaling laboratory results to

the plant: A methodology

Conducting small scale flotation tests (either in the laboratory or pilot plant) Christopher Greet, Jessica Kinal
and Grant Small. Magotteaux,
does provide the metallurgist with an appreciation as to how a particular vari-
Australia
able will affect the concentrate grade and/or valuable mineral recovery. However,
being able to apply these results to the plant in a meaningful way is not easy.
The subject of scale-up has had a long and a somewhat despairing history.
The importance of demonstrating the potential benefits of a particular
solution developed in the laboratory at the plant scale has not escaped the
attention of the authors, and, it is for this reason that they have developed
a scale-up methodology based on the rationing of fast and slow rate cons-
tants generated from Kelsalls (1961) kinetic model for flotation. By way of
example, the paper explains the scale-up methodology for a copper ore, and
compares the predicted results with those achieved in the plant trial. In this
case, the results showed excellent agreement. However, the data did also
sound a timely warning.
The data showed that the indiscriminate application of a model de-
veloped for one ore type does not readily apply to a different ore type.
So, it is well worth remembering that it is necessary to continually survey
the plant to understand how the metallurgy varies with ore type.
INTRODUCTION
After completing a series of laboratory flotation tests and observing a positive outcome the question
most often asked is: How does this result translate to the plant? This vexing question has been
plaguing flotation metallurgists for well over 100 years. Considerable time and effort has been
expended in developing an appropriate methodology that will provide an acceptable, reliable
approach to solving the problem of scaling up laboratory results to estimate plant performance
(Apling and Osborn, 1986; Alexander et al, 2000; Dobby and Savassi, 2005).

METHODOLOGY
The methodology applied in this paper is an empirical line of attack Hay and Martin (2004)
developed where by both the laboratory and plant data are fitted to Kelsalls (1961) unmodified rate
equation (1):

(
R = (100 ) 1 e
kft
) + (1 e )
kst
(1)

where R is recovery, t is time (in minutes), is the fraction of slow floating material, kf is the fast
floating rate constant, and ks is the slow floating rate constant. The various kinetic parameters for
each species of interest are ratioed (plant:laboratory), and these ratios (or scale-up factors) are
applied to a new set of laboratory data to predict what would happen to the plant concentrate
grades and recoveries should the new condition be applied in the plant.

EXAMPLE
The best way to describe the scale-up methodology in detail is through an example.
A dual train pilot plant was operated at the Ernest Henry Mine in north western Queensland (Greet
et al, 2010) examining the impact of grinding chemistry on copper flotation. The pilot plant
contained two parallel grinding and flotation lines. During these tests one line operated with
forged steel grinding media, while the other utilized high chrome grinding media. The ground
product from each grinding circuit reported to its own flotation line. Down-the-bank metallurgical
surveys of the two pilot plant flotation lines as well as the main plant were conducted periodically
to determine the impact of the different grinding chemistries has on copper flotation.
The surveys were mass balanced using MATBAL Version 8.0. In order to fit the plant survey data
to Equation (1) it is necessary to firstly calculate the residence time within the plant rougher bank.
As the pulp flow rate varies through the flotation bank, with concentrate being collected from each
cell, it is not strictly correct to assume a constant residence time for each cell (i.e. flotation bank
volume divided by feed flow rate divided by the number of cells). A more realistic approach is to
use the volumetric flow rates for the tailing of each flotation cell, and calculate the residence time
for that cell (Lynch et al, 1981). Table 1 lists the cell volume, tailing volumetric flow rate, and
residence times for the copper rougher flotation cells.
Table 1 The cell volume, tailing volumetric flow rate and residence times for the copper rougher
flotation cells
Unit Cell volume, m3 Tailing flow rate, m3/h Residence time, minutes
Cell 1 100 3110 1.93
Cells 2 and 3 200 3034 3.96
Cells 4 and 5 200 2982 4.02
Cells 6 to 9 400 2828 8.49

For this analysis the scale up will be based on a comparison between copper rougher circuit of the
main plant and the pilot plant line operated with forged steel grinding media. The recovery versus
time curves for copper, sulphur, iron, molybdenum and gold for the survey data for the main plant
survey and the pilot plant operated with forged steel are presented in Figure 1. These data indicate
that there is good correlation between all species (i.e. they follow similar trends, with copper,
molybdenum and gold all exhibit higher flotation rates and recoveries to the iron and sulphur).

100,0
90,0
80,0
70,0
Recovery, %

60,0
50,0
40,0
30,0
20,0
10,0
0,0
0,0 5,0 10,0 15,0 20,0

Flotation time, minutes


Cu - plant Cu - Magotteaux pilot plant S - Plant
S - Magotteaux pilot plant Fe - Plant Fe - Magotteaux pilot plant
Mo - Plant Mo - Magotteaux pilot plant Au - Plant
Au - Magotteaux Mill discharge

Figure 1 Recovery versus time curves for copper, sulphur, iron, molybdenum and gold for the plant survey
and pilot plant operated with forged steel grinding media

Equation (1) was then fitted, using KINCALC, to determine 1-, kf, and ks for each species for the
plant survey and forged line for the pilot plant. These data and the scale factors are listed in Table
2. The scale factors are essentially a ratio of the plant to pilot plant data.
KINCALC was also applied to the pilot plant data for the high chrome grinding media. Then by
multiplying the values for 1-, kf, and ks for the high chrome case by the scale factors given in Table
2, the 1-, kf, and ks values for the plant operating with high chrome were estimated. These data
are given in Table 3. Once the 1-, kf, and ks values for the high chrome grinding media in the
plant were established they were substituted in to Equation (1) to determine the recoveries for each
of the species. The recovery versus time data for copper is presented in Figure 2, and predicts that
the high chrome grinding media should have a positive impact on the flotation of the copper
bearing minerals.
The copper grade/recovery curves were constructed from the model data, and are shown in Figure
3. This graph shows the copper grade/recovery curves from the actual plant mass balance, the
plant mass balance calculated from the model and the plant mass balance calculated from the
model using high chrome grinding media. The data indicates that a change to high chrome
grinding media will have a positive effect on copper recovery.

Table 2 The 1-, kf, ks and scaling factors for mass, copper, iron, sulphur, molybdenum, and gold
data for the plant and pilot plant employing forged steel grinding media
Parameter Species
Mass Cu Fe S Mo Au
Plant forged
1- 0.0742 0.9972 0.0383 0.2483 0.8562 0.9669
kf 0.1452 0.2916 0.5534 0.2468 0.0909 0.2115
ks 0.0006 0.1639 0.0015 0.0015 0.0402 0.0861
Pilot plant forged
1- 0.0681 0.8544 0.0594 0.1688 0.9993 0.9389
kf 0.1878 0.4239 0.2125 0.2011 0.0721 0.1551
ks 0.0011 0.0188 0.0008 0.0036 0.3656 0.0996
Scale factors
1- 1.0907 1.1671 0.6449 1.4709 0.8568 1.0298
kf 0.7730 0.6879 2.6045 1.2272 1.2600 1.3640
ks 0.5373 8.6975 1.8401 0.4146 0.1100 0.8641

Table 3 The 1-, kf, and ks values for mass, copper, iron, sulphur, molybdenum, and gold data for
the pilot plant operated with high chrome grinding media, and the predicted plant performance
established by multiplying these numbers by the scale factors (plant:laboratory) given in Table 2
Parameter Species
Mass Cu Fe S Mo Au
Pilot plant high chrome
1- 0.0210 0.7230 0.0230 0.0639 0.9951 0.6692
kf 0.6024 0.5952 0.5711 0.5147 0.0657 0.2645
ks 0.0008 0.0204 0.0006 0.0012 0.2683 0.0015
Plant high chrome (simulated)
1- 0.0742 0.8438 0.0148 0.0939 0.8526 0.9128
kf 0.1452 0.4094 1.4873 0.6317 0.0828 0.2724
ks 0.0006 0.1771 0.0012 0.0005 0.0295 0.0013
While this prediction for rougher flotation is promising it would be advantageous to use these data
to generate an estimate of the overall plant performance, i.e. the potential improvement to final
copper recovery. To do this it was assumed that the valuable mineral recovery in the cleaner
circuit, with respect to cleaner feed was 98 percent. Thus, the overall plant recovery data was
estimated by multiplying recovery data generated from Equation (1) by 0.98, knowing that the fresh
feed to the plant was held constant. Table 4 contains the summary mass balance data for the actual
mass balance and the mass balances for the forged and high chrome grinding media simulations.
It is apparent in Figure 3 that the actual and predicted copper grade/recovery curves for the forged
steel grinding media are in reasonable agreement. Further, the predicted copper grade/recovery
curve for the high chrome grinding media shows a significant improvement in copper recovery
during rougher flotation. The mass balanced data (Table 4) indicates that changing from forged
steel to high chrome grinding media would result in a 2.0 percent increase in copper recovery at
nominally the same copper concentrate grade. There were also indications that gold and
molybdenum recoveries could be improved.
100,0

90,0
Cu recovery, %

80,0

70,0

60,0

50,0

40,0

30,0
0,0 2,0 4,0 6,0 8,0 10,0 12,0 14,0 16,0 18,0 20,0

Flotation time, minutes

Plant - forged (actual) Plant - forged (model)

Pilot plant - forged (actual) Pilot plant - forged (model)

Pilot plant - 18% Cr (actual) Pilot plant - 18% Cr (model)

Plant - 18% Cr (model)

Figure 2 Copper recovery versus time curves for forged and high chrome grinding media

Table 4 Summary mass balance data


Process stream Grade Recovery
Cu Mo Au Cu Mo Au
Actual
Feed 1.07 166 0.48 100.0 100.0 100.0
Cu rougher concentrate 17.08 1511 6.72 93.9 53.5 82.2
Final tailing 0.07 82 0.09 6.1 46.5 17.8
Estimated final recovery 91.9 52.4 80.6
Forged Model
Feed 1.07 166 0.48 100.0 100.0 100.0
Cu rougher concentrate 14.70 1365 5.80 93.8 56.1 82.3
Final tailing 0.07 79 0.09 6.2 43.9 17.7

Estimated final recovery 91.9 54.9 80.7


High chrome model
Feed 1.07 166 0.48 100.0 100.0 100.0
Cu rougher concentrate 15.21 1403 6.40 97.0 57.6 90.8
Final tailing 0.03 76 0.05 3.0 42.4 9.2

Estimated final recovery 95.0 56.4 89.0

35,0

30,0
Cu grade, %

25,0

20,0

15,0

10,0
30,0 40,0 50,0 60,0 70,0 80,0 90,0 100,0

Cu recovery, %
Plant (forged) - actual Plant (forged) - model

Figure 3 Copper grade/recovery curves determined from mass balanced data for actual plant survey (forged
media), and modelled data from the forged and high chrome media based on the information gathered from
the pilot plant

DISCUSSION
The scale-up simulations predicted that should the plant convert to high chrome grinding media
there would be a 2.0 percent increase in copper recovery to final concentrate. The Ernest Henry
concentrator subsequently changed to high chrome grinding media in November 2009, and the
statistical analysis of the shift data from the trial period concluded that the copper recovery
increased by 2.0 0.7 percent, with greater than 99 percent confidence. This is a pleasing result;
however it must be viewed with caution.
A series of tests were completed on another ore sample from the Ernest Henry mine, and the results
were scaled up using the same plant survey data as that employed in the above example. The head
grade and mineralogy of this sample were very different from the ore treated in the pilot plant tests.
Unfortunately, when applying the scale-up methodology the difference in the copper
grade/recovery curve between the actual plant survey and the test was large (Figure 4). This large
difference resulted in a final cumulative copper recovery exceeding 100 percent. This is patently
wrong, and can be directly attributed to the significant differences between the ore samples.
The moral of the story really is that using incompatible data sets when used in scale-up calculations
such as these can often produce nonsensical results. Where possible the plant should be surveyed
at about the same time as the sample for testing is collected. In this way, large differences in
mineralogical character can be avoided, and this should lead to improved scale-up predictions.
30,0

25,0

20,0
Cu grade, %

15,0

10,0

5,0

0,0
30,0 40,0 50,0 60,0 70,0 80,0 90,0 100,0 110,0

Cu recovery, %

Plant (forged) - actual Test (forged) - actual Test (forged) - model

Figure 4 Copper grade/recovery curves of the actual plant survey (forged media), a laboratory flotation test
completed on a different ore sample and the scaled up data

CONCLUSIONS
A methodology for scaling laboratory and pilot plant flotation results to the plant is described. The
example used predicted that moving from forged steel to high chrome grinding media at the Ernest
Henry mine should result in a 2.0 percent increase in copper recovery. This result was validated
during the plant trial conducted in November 2009.
The same scale-up calculations when applied to incompatible data sets produced nonsensical
results. This can be overcome by careful experimental planning which should involve the collection
of a plant survey that matches the sample collected from the plant for testing.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The authors wish to thank Magotteaux for giving permission to publish this paper.

REFERENCES
Alexander D J, Runge K C, Franzidis J-P and Manlapig E V (2000) The application of multi-component
floatability models to full-scale flotation circuits, in the Proceedings of the 7th Mill Operators
Conference, The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne, pp. 167177.

Apling A C and Osborn G (1986) A practical simulation of an industrial rougher flotation circuit, in the
proceedings of the 13th Congress of the Council of Mining and Metallurgical Institutions, pp. 2531.

Dobby G S and Savassi O N (2005) An advanced modelling technique for scale-up of batch flotation results to
plant metallurgical performance, in the Proceedings of the Centenary of Flotation Symposium, The
Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne, pp. 99103.

Greet C J, Kinal J, Twomey J and Peatey M (2010) Improving the copper recovery at Xstratas Ernest Henry
concentrator by changing the grinding chemistry, in the Proceedings of 7th International Mineral
Processing Seminar (Procemin), pp. 413.

Hay M P and Martin C J (2004) SUPASIM: A Methodology to Predict Plant Performance from Laboratory
Data, in the Proceedings of the 36th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Mineral Processors, Paper 18.

Kelsall D F (1961) Applications of probability assessment of flotation systems, Transactions American Society
of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, 70, pp. 191204.

Lynch A J, Johnson N W, Manlapig E V, and Thorne C G (1981) Mineral and Coal Flotation Circuits: Their
Simulation and Control, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Amsterdam.

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