TECHNOLOGY

The next generation of mining simulation

CRC ORE presents a next-generation mining simulator, providing mining operations with a toolset for optimising metal production and environmental footprint

Carly Leonida
With the IES, mill operators have the ability to capture fundamental stream flow and equipment performance data

With the IES, mill operators have the ability to capture fundamental stream flow and equipment performance data

The Integrated Extraction Simulator (IES) is the result of a substantial commitment by the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE) to produce a next-generation mining simulator that integrates all mining and mineral processing activities starting from drill and blast, and proceeding through the entire mining value chain to the end of the concentration process.

The IES software product has been designed to become a complete resource-to-market simulation-based decision support system, enabling the implementation of large-scale continuous improvement initiatives and major capital project development. IES will provide mining industry engineers with the toolset to consider changes in the design, layout and operation of processing extraction systems to optimise metal production and environmental footprint.

Overcoming challenges

The IES system overcomes a number of challenges that have previously made fast, reliable and accurate simulation of mineral processing challenging and time consuming. These advances include:

  • Integration: IES is an integrated simulator that assists the user in combining the entire mining value chain into one contiguous environment, starting with drill and blast and stepping through each stage of load, haul, stockpile, blend and mix prior to crushing, grinding and finally flotation and/or leaching.
  • Multi-component material processing: IES enables the user to combine multiple rock types in the ore stream and process these through all types of simulation models, including those not designed for multi-component use.
  • Processing power scalability: IES is deployed as a cloud-based subscription service that enables the user to use a web browser to access the service to set up simulation runs and then define how much computing power they want to “throw” at the simulation engine. Design problems can be simulated quickly and then analysed at a more contemplative pace without the need to pay for performance.
  • Model development and sharing: IES is designed for a wide range of users and usage scenarios- mining companies, mineral processing consultants and researchers. Regardless of their skill levels, all users will have the ability to develop models and use them privately or share them with others in the IES community.
  • Mill performance management: mine and mill operators have the ability to capture all of the fundamental stream flow and equipment performance data of a full mill survey and provide the tools to perform reconciliation (mass balancing), calibration and optimisation.

Whole-of-mine simulation

As a fully integrated system, IES enables the optimisation of the entire mining chain with functions that are derivatives of the mining and milling process. Users can define expressions that calculate operating cost per tonne, power consumption or even CO2 emissions, enabling the optimisation to be performed directly with multiple-objective functions.

With the development of IES, mining industry engineers will have the toolset to consider changes in the design, layout and operation of processing and extraction systems such that the environmental footprints are minimised and the productivity of net metal maximised. The simulator provides full reporting of energy, water and emissions for every step and stream of the flowsheet.

Advancing the concepts established with the Anglo Platinum Sustainability and Extraction Efficiency Simulator prototype, the simulator incorporates the outcomes of over 50 years of JKMRC and AMIRA research, combining existing industry standard simulation models with models from diverse research and development sources.

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IES provides a model development environment that is the heart of its strength. This allows the user to access models built by the best researchers and developers in the industry and combine them with internal proprietary models that have been tested in the field, calibrated and shown to be reliable.

Where to from here?

IES forms the integration point for the CRC ORE research portfolio and is a key tool in the effective implantation of Grade Engineering. Current and future extensions of the system are in progress, with a long-term objective being the development of IES into a toolset that fully supports Scenario-Based Improvement/Evaluation with scenarios of varying time scales from days, weeks and months in an operational context to months and years for green/brownfield development projects.

IES completed a beta roll-out in October 2014 and plans a commercial release in March 2015.

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