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Presentation to The Mill Optimisation Summit 2011

Optimising SAG mill throughput:


A case study in tuning

Presented by:
Paul Wilson
Technology Manager
Calibre Automation, Communications & Technology Group

Two SAG mills

The mills
Porgera Mine, PNG
4.5 Megawatt, variable speed drive
About 500 tonnes per hour per mill
Highly variable lithology with grinding factors from
6 to 18 kilowatt hours per tonne
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The mills

Unstable behaviour
The mills were often unstable, seen as oscillations
in the feedrate trend graphs

Loss of production
As much as 15% on bad days
Up to 380 ounces of gold per day on bad
days
At $425 US per ounce = $160,000 per day
You could hire a very good plant operator
for that kind of money
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Natural instability
Poor tuning causes natural instability

Operator-caused instability
Poor operator skills also forces instability

The control system


Highest level
Minnovex expert system control
Optional top level control
Constraint control
Mid-level
Closed loop control
Bottom level
Delta-V distributed control system
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The Minnovex expert system


A fuzzy rules based artificial intelligence system
Running on a G2 expert system shell
Running on a Windows NT PC platform
Takes data from, & feeds setpoints to, the loop
controllers on the Delta-V
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Performance comparison
Expert system control is far better than poor operator control

Why mills go unstable (#1)


Mills stall (bog or centrifuge). The behaviour
at maximum throughput is highly non-linear

Why mills go unstable (#2)


Dynamic behaviour of a mill is type 1
Control engineers recognise that type 1
systems are more likely to be unstable than
type 0 systems
Caused by the inherent integration in the mill
transfer function

Why mills go unstable (#2)


Mill load (level) is the integral of the nett
feedrate
level = (Qin Qout).dt
This induces a -90o phase shift in the transfer
function which leads to reduced stability

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Why mills go unstable (#2)


The integration causes a phase shift

Simulated integral response

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Why mills go unstable (#3)


1. When a mill stalls it stops working.
2. The mill fills with unground material.
3. It takes time to grind out the rock and get the
outflow going again
So: the control system / plant operator must be:

PATIENT
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The result of operator impatience

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Mill under tuned expert system control

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Expert system recovers from a motor


overheat event

Section A to B is the maximum speed of recovery to


prevent stalling the mill again
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The result
In 2004 / 2005 mill production rose from
850,000 ounces to 1,000,000 ounces
At $425 US per ounce that was
$63.75 million US increase per year

Not possible without increasing SAG mill throughput

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Extra energy used


The difference in energy usage between
the unstable zone and the stable zone is:
the unstable zone averages
25% more motor energy per tonne of product
than the stable zone and produces
15% less product
Which adds 10% to the energy costs for the remainder of
the processing plant
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How was it done?


Develop a mathematical model
Use trend plots and tests to characterise the
mill (find the characteristics of mill behaviour)
Estimate fastest possible recovery times on
the worst-case ores
Retune the expert system rules for robust,
always-stable behaviour

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How was it done?


Block diagram model of mill behaviour

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How was it done?


Transfer function of mill load to ore feedrate

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Additional development
The decision to secondary crush the harder
ores.
A secondary crusher was installed. With a bit of clever
mathematics we were able to estimate SAG mill
grinding factor at the primary crusher. We used this
to feed some of the hard ore (GF > 10 kWhr per
tonne) through the secondary crusher thus
increasing SAG mill throughput on the harder ore.

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Questions

Your questions are welcome


Plant characterisation & transfer function development
is a complex process. I am happy to discuss some
of the methods afterwards with anyone interested.

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