Grinding Optimization Spotlight (Part1)

Discover how you can maintain your Ball Charge at its optimal setpoint with our Hematite ’21 release. 

Hematite is the very latest release of our suite of decision intelligence applications built specifically for the mining industry.  The applications all use artificial intelligence (AI) and data science models to target individual mining processes and increase their efficiency, sustainability and safety.

We are so proud of the work our team has completed over the last six months to get this release shipped to our customers that we wanted to share a series of deeper dive spotlights into some of the new product capabilities, starting with our Grinding Optimization app.

Kevin O'Kane

The Grinding Circuit Optimization Challenge

The Ball Charge in SAG and Ball Mills, in other words, the fraction of the mill volume constituted by balls, has a significant impact on the performance of a mill and the greater Grinding circuit. Running at the wrong Ball Charge adversely impacts not only throughput but the consistency of the product particle size (P80) as well.

The challenge is plant personnel are very often unsure what the ball charge levels in their mills are. This means they don’t have accurate insight on when to add balls into their mill. The only way to be sure is to stop the mill and take a look inside.

The outcome is that mill performance is adversely impacted either because of multiple, potentially unnecessary, mill stoppages (in order to measure ball charge) or by allowing the mill to carry on operating with a sub-optimal ball charge level.


The Solution

Our Grinding Application solves this challenge with its Ball Charge Virtual Sensor and accompanying Alerts.

The Grinding Application’s Ball Charge Model tracks the level of the ball charge in the mill in real-time. Crucially, the app uses a combination of AI and first-principle modelling of ball wear and -ejection in order to accurately predict changes in the ball charge levels during the mill’s operation. The model tracks multiple factors including ball additions, ore properties, ball hardness, mill operational regimes, discharge grate design and more.

The resulting real-time Ball Charge Virtual Sensor gives Operators and Metallurgists immediate and direct feedback on their actual Ball Charge in each mill. The Grinding app compares the Virtual Sensor value with the desired/optimal operating bands (minimum & maximum limits) for the particular mill. Whenever the Ball Charge moves outside of these ranges, Operators are alerted to correct it by adjusting their ball addition schedule/control.

This Virtual Sensor can also be used historically by Metallurgists to perform root-cause analyses, and see which ball charge ranges gave the best performance over a given period or for a given ore type.


The Value Delivered

Stabilizing the Ball Charge in your mills and ensuring close tracking of your optimal Ball Charge setpoints increases mill throughput and will improve your P80 stability.

Additionally, it means you will stop your mill less often (for ball measurements) and avoid unnecessary ball breakage and mill liner damage. 

Seven Steps to maintaining your ball charge at its optimal setpoint

  1. Navigate to SAG Mill Ball Charge dashboard.
  2. Select LIVE mode in the time picker.
  3. Observe the line graph to ensure the ball charge remains within the desired range.
  4. See the bar chart to know about the current ball size distribution.
  5. Adjust your ball addition schedule as required to achieve the desired ball size distribution.
  6. Record the ball addition via the Data Input Widget (if not on your SCADA system).
  7. See the total volume taken up by balls (Jb).

Want to know more? We would be delighted to provide a live demo tailored to your requirements.

SAG Mill Ball Charge Optimization

This Grinding Application Virtual Sensor and Alert are delivered to Operators and Metallurgists via

Above is an example of a Dashboard showing the Ball Charge Virtual Sensor with other key Mill variables, and an Alert showing that the Ball Charge is low. 

Mine to Market: Value Chain Optimization

The Stockpile & Inventory Optimization Application is one of a suite of real-time decision-making applications that uses AI to optimize each process; from mine to market.

Our Material Handling model connects these applications to drive even greater efficiency.

Our process optimization apps can be deployed on a specific process bottleneck or expanded across the entire value chain. They are powered by our Industrial AI Decision Intelligence Platform,

Stockpile and Inventory Optimization

Stockpile & Inventory Optimization

Grinding Optimization App

Grinding Optimization

Thickener Circuit Optimization

Thickener Optimization

Flotation Circuit

Flotation Optimization

Solvent Extraction Optimization App

Solvent Extraction (SX) Optimization

Leaching Optimization App

Leaching Optimization