Project Title:Developing a process mineralogy approach towards the design of viable process flowsheets: a zinc sulphide study
Supervisors: Prof Jochen Petersen; Megan Becker
Current Research Overview/Abstract
Understanding the interplay between the mineralogy of an ore body and the available process routes, in terms of technical and environmental aspects, is critical for process flowsheet design decisions. This project focuses on the commodity zinc, due to its strategic value coupled with a limited resource availability and the wide variety of substantially different process technologies in existence.
The broader PhD study aims to demonstrate that process design for a heterogenous and complex ore body, which takes varying ore mineralogy and the viable aspect of sustainability criteria into account, significantly influences the process flowsheet options available, relative to a conventional techno-economic design approach.
Methodology of the Study
The study will be conducted in several stages starting with a review of zinc sulphide processing plants worldwide, over the last 100 years, taking into account technology choices and differing mineralogy at various operational scales. The influence of various context specific location factors (e.g. different environmental limits) will also be considered. The aim is to understand the reasons for the initial design choices and any proposed or implemented design changes, specifically as they relate to mineralogy.
In addition, the review aims to shed light on existing historical trends that process route choices and varying ore mineralogy have had in terms of (1) primary valuable metal recovery (Zn), co-production of other base metals (Cu/Pb), and potential for other valuable metal production (Ag/Au) including less well known, but increasingly valuable trace elements (In, Ge), (2) the reporting of deleterious elements (e.g. Hg, Mn, Cd) within various unit operations and the ease with which they were removed (3) environmental implications such as emission limits and the characteristics of the associated waste streams.
Galley, A.G., Hannington, M.D. and Jonasson, I.R., Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide Deposits, Goodfellow, W.D., ed., Mineral Deposits of Canada: A Synthesis of Major Deposit-Types, District Metallogeny, the Evolution of Geological Provinces, and Exploration Methods: Geological Association of Canada, Mineral Deposits Division, Special Publication, 6 141-161 (2007).