Technical Paper

Opportunities for ferrous alloys used in copper mining

International Symposium on Wear Resistant Alloys for the Mining and Processing Industry

A study of ferrous alloys used in the Chilean mining industry was conducted in order to determine potential opportunities for the development and introduction of new ferrous alloys where benefits far outweigh cost increases. Two criteria were defined for determining the alloys of interest: demand for the alloy reaches at least 15,000 tonnes per year within the Chilean copper mining industry, and improving the alloy properties would have a positive economic impact and therefore be of interest to other mining companies. The copper production chain was examined to identify at which points conditions caused impact and abrasion wear, and where chemically aggressive conditions existed that could cause corrosion. As a result of this analysis, it was concluded that grinding balls and SAG mill liners constitute interesting opportunities. In the case of grinding balls, it is the second greatest expense of a concentrator plant, after energy. The estimated consumption by the Chilean copper mining industry is 445,000 tonnes of steel per year. Given the large volume involved, there is a significant direct economic benefit to users if the consumption of grinding balls is reduced. Based on treatment of 50 million tonnes of ore per year, it is estimated that improved alloy properties, sufficient to reduce ball consumption in the copper mining industry by at least 10%, would, even with an increase in alloy cost of 4%, produce savings of approximately US$1.56 million per year. In the case of SAG mill liners, achieving an increase in liner service life is important, since downtimes of SAG mills have a direct impact on final production and thus on sales. It was estimated that, for plants treating 50 million tonnes of ore per year (estimated three SAG mills), the benefit stemming from a 5% increase in liner duration would be US$2.62 million per year, per plant. (AU) Copyright © 2018 Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM) All rights reserved
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