Monday, 24 October 2011

Reducing Energy Consumption in Mineral Processing

Reducing energy consumption will be the subject of a number of papers at next month’s Flotation ’11 conference, and is also one of the themes of the following major MEI Conference, Comminution ’12.

Where the focus should be for reducing energy consumption in primary metal production is analysed in an important paper by Terry Norgate and Sharif Jahanshahi of CSIRO Minerals Down Under Flagship.

They argue that it is essential that a life cycle approach be adopted in evaluating the opportunities to improve sustainability and reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of operations.

They use life cycle assessment methodology to indicate where in the metal production life cycle this focus on energy efficiency should be and to evaluate a number of potential opportunities for reducing the greenhouse gas footprint of primary metal production.

Results from life cycle assessments of the main primary metal production processes, together with current and predicted global metal production rates, ore grades and grind or liberation size, have been used in a broad analysis to indicate that endeavours to improve the energy efficiency of primary metal production should focus mainly on the metal extraction stage, particularly for steel and aluminium. Declining ore grades and more complex ore bodies anticipated in the future can be expected to significantly increase the energy required for comminution of the main metal ores and will present opportunities for improving the energy efficiency of primary metal production. However, these opportunities will still be appreciably less than potential energy efficiency improvements in the extraction stage for these metals.

Their paper can be found in Volume 24 Issue 14 of Minerals Engineering, which is now available on ScienceDirect.

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