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Inferential measurement of SAG mill parameters III:

inferential models
T.A. Apelt
a,c,
*
, S.P. Asprey
a
, N.F. Thornhill
a,b
a
Centre for Process Systems Engineering, Imperial College, London SW7 2BY, UK
b
Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, University College, London WC1E 7JE, UK
c
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Received 21 June 2002; accepted 21 September 2002
Abstract
This paper discusses inferential measurement models for semiautogenous grinding (SAG) mills. Inferential measurements of
SAG mill discharge and feed streams and mill rock and ball charge levels are obtained utilising process measurements and re-
cognised process simulation models. Inferential models of recirculating load and cyclone underow split are also presented. Results
for the mill inventories and process streams are validated against reference simulation model data. Uncertainty analyses are con-
ducted to assess the inuence of the various model parameters. Mill weight based estimates for mill inventory are shown to be the
least uncertain. The results suggest that regular calibration of oversize crusher and primary cyclone feed instrumentation, regular
measurement of the SAG mill discharge screen aperture, oversize crusher gap setting and process water specic gravity and careful
tting of the SAG mill discharge grate model parameters will minimise uncertainty in the inferential models.
2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: SAG milling; Comminution; Modelling; Simulations
1. Introduction
This paper describes inferential models of the mill
inventory and various streams in the primary grinding
circuit and is a continuation of earlier work (Apelt et al.,
2001a). The models presented below in Step 3 of the
inferential models section recapitulate models presented
in the initial paper (Apelt et al., 2001a). This paper is
based on the research and ndings presented in a Uni-
versity of Sydney thesis dissertation (Apelt, submitted
for publication).
The inferential models of the SAG mill discharge,
inventories and feed will be described following a review
of related works and the presentation of the relevant
simulation models. The review is divided into mill
charge and discharge measurement and feed size distri-
bution measurement. Discussion of the inferential model
results precedes a brief analysis of the inferential model
uncertainties. To conclude, the major ndings of this
paper are summarised.
The contribution of this work is the presentation of
inferential models of the SAG mill discharge rate and
size distribution, rock charge, total feed and fresh feed-
rate and size distribution. An inferential model of the
primary underow split is also presented which allows
denition of the circuit mass balance. The results of an
uncertainty analysis of these models is also presented.
2. Circuit description
The discussion centres on the primary grinding circuit
shown in Fig. 1 which also shows process measurements
relevant to this work. The abbreviations indicate the
available process measurements for mass owrate
(TPH) (t/h), volumetric owrate (CMPH) (m
3
/h), stream
density (%sols) (% solids w/w), mill powerdraw (kW),
and mill load cell weight LC (t). This example of a
grinding circuit would be considered well instrumented
according to the guidelines dened by Fuenzalida et al.
(1996). The available measurements are as follows:
SAG mill fresh (stockpile) feed (t/h),
SAG mill feed water addition (m
3
/h),
This article is also available online at:
www.elsevier.com/locate/mineng
Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071
*
Corresponding author. Address: Centre for Process Systems
Engineering, Imperial College, London SW7 2BY, UK.
E-mail address: t.apelt@ic.ac.uk (T.A. Apelt).
0892-6875/02/$ - see front matter 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S0892- 6875( 02) 00230- 3
SAG mill powerdraw (kW),
SAG mill load cell (t),
Cyclone feed water addition (m
3
/h),
Cyclone feedrate (m
3
/h),
Cyclone feed density (% solids w/w),
Oversize crusher feedrate (t/h).
3. Related works
This section reviews inferential measurements for mill
inventory levels and mill discharge properties and the
direct measurement of mill feed size distribution.
3.1. Mill inventories
This section reviews mill inventory measurement
by measurement-type: powerdraw, weight, conductivity
probe and energy balance, and, sound measurement and
acoustic spectral analysis.
3.1.1. Powerdraw
Several mill powerdraw models have been developed
since the work of Bond (1961). These models are de-
pendent on mill charge and have generally developed
from the renement of the BondAllis Chalmers model
(Moys, 1993; van Nierop and Moys, 1997a; Herbst and
Pate, 1999), or via more detailed characterisation of the
mill charge (JKTech, 1994; Valery Jnr. and Morrell,
1995; Napier-Munn et al., 1996; Valery Jnr., 1998).
Powerdraw is a function of mill load (mass and vol-
ume). This characteristic may be exploited to estimate
mill charge levels. Erickson (1989) generated volumetric
ball charge fraction (J
b
) curves on a powerdraw-charge
weight grid. On a per mill revolution basis, Koivistoinen
and Miettunen (1989) found that the amplitude of
powerdrawoscillations caused by shell lifter bars entering
the charge was dependent on the total mill charge level.
More recently powerdraw models have been utilised
to estimate total charge level (J
t
) for a specied ball
charge level (J
b
) (Kojovic et al., 2001; Strohmayr and
Valery, 2001). Apelt et al. (2001a) present the novel use
of the Morrell powerdraw model for the simultaneous
estimation of both ball charge and total charge levels.
This method is recapitulated in the inferential model
section (Step 3).
3.1.2. Weight
Mill weight is measured by mill bearing pressure or
strain-gauge load cell. Since the 1980s, when it was
considered unreliable (Mular and Burkert, 1989), bear-
ing pressure measurement has been adopted widely and
is now considered a minimal requirement (Fuenzalida
et al., 1996). Both bearing pressure and load cell mea-
surements are strongly inuenced by mill and charge
motion. To compensate, recent bearing pressure model
development includes the inuence of mill charge shape
and mill drive forces (Evans, 2001).
A simple weight model is obtained through linear
regression of the mill weight measurement against the
internal states (inspection/state estimation) of the mill
(Herbst and Pate, 1999). More complex models result
when charge geometry is taken into account. The SAG
mill simulation model section below describes a mill
weight model based on charge geometry detailed by
Napier-Munn et al. (1996).
Similar to the powerdraw model utilisation, mill
weight models have been utilised to measure the total
charge level (J
t
) given the ball charge level (J
b
), or, used
in conjunction with mill powerdraw models in state es-
timation contexts to estimate both the total and ball
charge levels (Herbst and Pate, 1999; Apelt et al.,
2001b). Apelt et al. (2001b) present the novel use of a
mill weight model for the simultaneous estimation of
both ball charge and total charge. This method is also
recapitulated in the inferential model section (Step 3).
3.1.3. Conductivity probe measurements and energy
balance
Shell lining and lifter bar components are secured to
the inside of the mill shell with bolts. Conductivity
probes xed within the bolts (usually the longer lifter
bar bolts) can measure conductivity during a mill re-
volution to gain information regarding mill charge.
Conductivity is high within the charge, rises on entry at
the charge toe and falls on exit at the charge shoulder.
Marklund and Oja (1996) utilised conductivity
probes for total charge level measurement. The use of
conductivity probes was the preferred method over
methods utilising bearing back pressure, powerdraw
signal oscillation and lifter bar strain gauges.
Moys and colleagues have worked extensively with
the conductivity probe technique and have applied
and progressed the technology from laboratory-scale
through pilot-scale to industrial scale (Moys, 1985;
Moys, 1988; Moys, 1989; van Nierop and Moys, 1996;
van Nierop and Moys, 1997a; van Nierop and Moys,
Fig. 1. Primary grinding circuit.
1056 T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071
1997b). The information obtained from the conductivity
measurement analysis includes total charge level (J
t
),
charge centrifuging, mill overload, charge angle of re-
pose (a), slurry pooling at the charge toe and charge
shoulder (h
S
) and toe (h
T
) angles. Determination of the
total volumetric charge (J
t
) from the conductivity mea-
surements requires assumption regarding the charge
geometry like the Barth, Hinsley and Fobelets and
Uggla (BHFU) charge surface model as utilised by
Vermeulen and Schakowski (1988).
3.1.4. Acoustic spectral analysis and sound measurements
The initial use of mill sound measurements and
acoustic spectral analysis as a control variable and an
inferential mill charge level measurement received a
mixed review (Moys, 1985; Lyon, 1988; Moys, 1988;
Mular and Burkert, 1989). Sound measurement has
since gained wider acceptance and has been utilised in a
feedrate control scheme (Perry and Anderson, 1996)
and the utilisation of ltered acoustic signals for the
measurement of in-mill variables, particularly charge toe
angle, is progressing (Pax, 2001).
The measurement of charge position, motion and
collisions is being pursued using the processing of
surface vibration signals from accelerometers on the
mill shell, sent to a fast data acquisition system and
interpreted with the aid of a discrete element methods
mill model (Spencer et al., 2000; Campbell et al.,
2001).
3.1.5. Summary
Inferential measurement of total mill volumetric
charge (J
t
) that utilise mill powerdraw, and weight,
charge conductivity and acoustic emission measure-
ments are already utilised in industry or are in the de-
velopmental phase. These methods are currently unable
to provide a inferential measurement of ball charge level
(J
b
).
Novel use of mill weight and mill powerdraw for si-
multaneous inferential measurement of total and ball
charge levels, as described by Apelt et al. (2001a), is
restated in the inferential models section. Inferential
measurement of total and ball charge levels is also
possible utilising state estimation methods. State esti-
mation for SAG mills will be discussed in another paper.
3.2. Mill discharge
Measurement of the SAG mill discharge is required
to satisfy the basic grinding circuit control requirement
of determination of the circulating load (Lynch, 1977).
In the case where the SAG mill discharge is pumped
directly to another piece of equipment, e.g., a bank of
hydrocyclones, the solids tonnage may be derived from
a ow-density-pulp specic gravity combination of mea-
surements (Wills, 1989).
Inferential measurement of mill discharge is impor-
tant where ow measurement is lacking. In the absence
of ow measurement of SAG mill discharge water ad-
dition, Moys and colleagues have used thermocouples to
dene the energy and mass balances around the mill
discharge sump to enable the inferential measurement of
the mill discharge water addition rate, mill discharge
density and viscosity and the mill charge viscosity
(Moys, 1985; Moys et al., 1987; Van Drunick and Moys,
2001).
Inferential measurement models for the SAG mill
discharge are presented in the inferential models section.
These models provide the discharge stream ow pro-
perties and size distribution and can be utilised for
recirculating load and SAG mill rock charge determi-
nation (also described).
3.3. Feed size distribution
Feed size distribution measurement is considered an
important process measurement (Fuenzalida et al., 1996;
Broussaud et al., 2001). Online image analysis is gene-
rally the accepted method for size measurement. The
technology has been developing since the 1980s from
basic one-and two-dimensional methods (Lange, 1988)
to more sophisticated two dimensional methods. Cur-
rent commercially available instruments include:
OOS: Analyses parallel laser beams contours made
on rock-laden conveyor belts (Fimeri, 1997) and best
able to detect relative size changes on industrial con-
veyor belts (Davies et al., 2000).
Split/split-online: Analyses digital video images by
either fragment delineation or a circular feature iden-
tication (circle centres and radii) algorithm (Girdner
et al., 2001).
T-VIS: Analyses digital video frames to transform
linear chord length distributions to volumetric distri-
butions (Herbst and Blust, 2000).
WipFrag: Analyses optical camera images to measure
rock size distribution (Maerz and Palangio, 2000),
providing a high precision measurement useful for
process control (Maerz, 2001).
Texture based image processing is developing to as a
possible alternative to the above to address diculties
associated with order-of-magnitude particle size ranges,
the presence of mud and water, and concealment of
particles methods (Petersen et al., 1998).
With feed size measurement technology, particularly
pattern recognition methods, reaching a high level of
maturity, opportunities now exist to manipulate AG/
SAG mill feed size distribution through stockpile feeder
operation and blast pattern selection (Morrell and
Valery, 2001) and through blasting practice optimi-
sation (Sherman, 2001).
T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071 1057
Direct measurement of feed size distribution has
progressed to an advanced stage. However, there is
scope for development of a model-based alternative. A
novel model-based method for the inferential measure-
ment of the feed size distribution which could be utilised
as where capital or installation costs of the pattern and
textural instrumentation are prohibitive is presented in
the inferential models section.
4. SAG mill simulation models
Several simulation models require description prior
to the presentation of the inferential models, namely, the
mill solids balance, liquid balance, powerdraw and
weight models. In this work a simulation model is one
which utilises feed stream information to predict pro-
duct stream information whereas an inferential model
either estimates feed stream information from product
stream information or utilises existing process mea-
surements to estimate process characteristics which are
not measured.
4.1. Perfectly mixed mill model
4.1.1. Solids balance
The solids mass balance for the SAG mill is based on
the Whiten perfect mixing model (Whiten, 1974) which is
a special case of the general population balance model
described elsewhere (Austin et al., 1987). On a size by size
basis the solids balance may be stated as follows (Valery
Jnr. and Morrell, 1995; Napier-Munn et al., 1996):
Accumulation In Out Generation
Consumption
ds
i
dt
f
i
p
i

i1
j1
r
j
s
j
a
ij
1 a
ii
r
i
s
i
1
Accumulation 0 at steady state
0 f
i
p
i

i1
j1
r
j
s
j
a
ij
1 a
ii
r
i
s
i
2
where s
i
is the mill rock charge particles in size i (t),
f
i
the feedrate of particles in size i (t/h), p
i
the mill
discharge (product) of particles in size i (t/h), r
i
the
breakage rate of particles in size i which varies with
operating conditions within the mill (variable rates)
(h
1
), a
ij
the appearance function of particles appearing
in size i (a function of the breakage distribution of
particles in sizes Psize i) (fraction).
The mill product (the SAG mill discharge stream,
SMDC) is calculated as follows:
p
i
d
0
c
i
s
i
3
where d
0
is the maximum mill discharge rate constant
(h
1
) and c
i
the grate classication function for size i
(fraction), i.e., the probability of a size i particle passing
through mill discharge grate (refer to the original
function in Fig. 3).
4.1.2. Water balance
The water mass balance is as follows:
Accumulation In Out
ds
w
dt
f
w
p
w
4
where s
w
is the water in the mill charge (t), f
w
the feed
water addition (t/h) and p
w
the water discharge rate (t/h)
which is calculated as follows:
p
w
d
0
s
w
5
4.2. Mill powerdraw model
According to the Morrel powerdraw model (Morrell,
1994), the mill powerdraw, P
gross
, is
P
gross
P
no load
kP
charge
6
where P
gross
is the power input to the mill motor (me-
tered power) (kW), P
no load
the no-load power of mill
(empty mill powerdraw) (kW), P
charge
the mill power-
draw attributable to the entire contents of the mill (kW),
k the mill powerdraw lumped parameter (accounts for
heat losses due to internal friction, energy of attrition/
abrasion breakage, rotation of the grinding media and
inaccuracies in assumptions and charge shape and
motion measurements (dimensionless).
4.3. Mill weight model
Since the material in the inactive part of the charge is
in freefall, the mill weight consists of the mill shell
weight and the weight of the material in the charge
kidney (the active portion of the mill charge that is in
contact with the mill shell), refer to Fig. 2. The weight of
the kidney (mass of active fraction of mill charge),
M
kidney
, (t) is the product of the kidney density, q
kidney
(t/m
3
) and volume, V
kidney
(m
3
):
M
kidney
q
kidney
V
kidney
7
The volume of the kidney is
V
kidney
pL
m
r
2
m
_
r
2
i
_
2p h
T
h
S
2p
_ _
8
The mill charge (kidney) density is determined as follows
(Napier-Munn et al., 1996):
q
kidney
q
c

J
t
q
o
1 e eU
S
100
_ _
J
b
q
b
q
o
1 e J
t
eU 1
S
100
_ _ _ _
J
t
9
1058 T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071
where J
b
is the mill fraction occupied by grinding balls
including the associated voidage (fraction mill volume),
S the mill discharge volumetric solids content (% solids
v/v), the mill charge porosity (fraction), q
b
the grinding
ball density (specic gravity) (t/m
3
), q
c
the mill charge
density (specic gravity) (t/m
3
) and q
o
the ore density
(specic gravity) (t/m
3
).
5. Inferential models
5.1. Model overview
Inferential measurement of the SAG mill inventories,
feed rate and sizing and mill discharge rate and sizing
requires the development of suitable models. This sec-
tion details the development and utilisation of the new
inferential measurement models. An overview of the
model utilisation and calculation sequence is as follows:
1. The oversize crusher feed (OSCF) and primary cy-
clone feed (PCFD) streams are calculated from the
oversize crusher feedrate, primary cyclone feed ow-
rate and density data and assumptions about the size
distributions (based on SAG mill grate size and dis-
charge screen aperture size). The addition of OSCF
and PCFD less the discharge water addition yields
the SAG mill discharge stream (SMDC). The mill dis-
charge size distribution (smdc) and passing sizes
(T
80
. . . T
20
) are calculated in the process.
2. The SAG mill rock charge (SMRC) is calculated by
SAG mill discharge function model inversion.
3. SAG mill fractional total lling (J
t
) and ball lling
(J
b
) are determined by solving the powerdraw or mill
weight equations given mill power draw or weight
process measurements as inputs.
4. SAG mill total feed (SMTF) is then calculated by mill
model inversion after making assumptions about the
ball charge size distribution.
5. Oversize crusher product (OSCP) and primary cy-
clone underow (PCUF) are calculated by the direct
application of the crusher and cyclone models.
6. SAG mill fresh feed (SMFF) is calculated by sub-
tracting oversize crusher product (OSCP) and the
primary cyclone underow to SAG mill (PCUS)
from the SAG mill total feed (SMTF) stream. The
fresh feed size distribution (sm) and passing sizes
(F
80
. . . F
20
) are calculated in the process.
5.2. Step 1: oversize crusher feed, primary cyclone feed
and SAG mill discharge
5.2.1. Oversize crusher feed, OSCF/oscf
The oversize crusher feed mass owrates and stream
properties (OSCF) are calculated as follows:
OSCF
tph s
MV
scats
OSCF
%s w=w
10
OSCF
tph l
MV
scats
100 OSCF
%s w=w

100
11
where MV
scats
is the oversize crusher total feedrate
measured variable (t/h), OSCF
tph s
the oversize crusher
solids feedrate (t/h), OSCF
tph l
the oversize crusher liq-
uid feedrate (t/h) and OSCF
%s w=w
the oversize crusher
feed solids density (%solids w/w).
The RosinRammler size distribution function is
given in Eq. (12) and has been selected for its conve-
nience and since it has been found to t many size
distributions very well (Napier-Munn et al., 1996)
W
r
100 exp
_

x
a
_ _
b
_
12
where W
r
is the cummulative weight percent of material
retained at size x (cummulative % retained w/w), x the
particle size (mm), a the size at which 36.8% (i.e., 100/e)
of particles are retained (mm) and b the slope of
lnln100=W
r
versuslnx) plot.
Since it is conventional in mineral processing to
represent size distributions in cummulative percent
Fig. 3. Grate classication function.
Fig. 2. Simplied mill charge geometry.
T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071 1059
passing format, Eq. (16) is more useful in such a format,
as given in Eq. (17). The values of a and b for oscf are
estimated.
W
p
100 100 exp
_

x
a
_ _
b
_
13
where W
p
is the cummulative weight percent of material
passing size x (cummulative % passing w/w).
5.2.2. Primary cyclone feed, PCFD/pcfd
The primary cyclone feed properties (PCFD) are
calculated from the plant measured variables of cyclone
feed owrate, PCFD
m3ph p
(MV
pc flow
) (m
3
/h), and feed
solids density, PCFD
%s w=w
(MV
pc dens
) (%solids w/w). A
mass balance yields,
PCFD
tph s

PCFD
m3ph p
PCFD
%s w=w
SG
l
SG
s
PCFD
%s w=w
SG
l
100 PCFD
%s w=w
SG
s
14
PCFD
tph l
PCFD
tph s
100 PCFD
%s w=w

PCFD
%s w=w
15
Eq. (18) may also be derived from a ow-density-pulp
specic gravity combination of measurements (Wills,
1989). The primary cyclone feed size distribution (pcfd)
is estimated in a similar manner as the oversize crusher
feed stream. That is, pcfd is approximated by a Rosin
Rammler distribution, see Eq. (17), with estimated va-
lues of a and b.
5.2.3. SAG mill discharge, SMDC/smdc
The SAG mill discharge properties (SMDC) and size
distribution (smdc) are estimated by the addition of the
estimated primary cyclone feed and oversize crusher
feed streams less the SAG mill discharge water owrate.
SMDC
tph s
OSCF
tph s
PCFD
tph s
16
SMDC
tph l
OSCF
tph l
PCFD
tph l
MV
DC H2O
SG
l
17
smdc
OSCF
tph s
SMDC
tph s
oscf
PCFD
tph s
SMDC
tph s
pcfd 18
where SMDC
tph s
is the SAG mill solids discharge rate
(t/h), SMDC
tph l
the SAG mill liquid discharge rate (t/h),
smdc the SAG mill discharge size distribution (%re-
tained w/w), MV
DC H2O
the SAG mill discharge water
addition rate (m
3
/h) and SG
l
the process water specic
gravity (t/m
3
).
Potential now exists to utilise the SAG mill discharge
inferential measurement as a measure of SAG mill per-
formance. Control objectives and strategies could be
formulated centering on this inferential measurement.
For example, the SAG mill discharge size distribution
measurement could be utilised as a measure of the re-
lative loading of the primary and secondary grinding
circuits. A coarse size measurement could indicate that
the primary circuit is highly loaded. This indication
could provide feedback to the SAG mill feedrate control
loop.
5.2.4. Recirculating load, RCL
One of the basic requirements of a grinding circuit
control system is the measurement of the circulating
load, so that overload may be prevented (Lynch, 1977).
For a closed-loop mill-cyclone arrangement, the circu-
lating load is generally dened as the ratio of the solids
mass ow in the cyclone underow to the solids feed to
the mill (Wills, 1989).
In this case, where there are two recycle streams
(oversize crusher feed, OSCF, and a proportion of
the primary cyclone underow, 1 PC
split
PCUF), the
amount of solid material recirculating is the dierence
between the mill discharge and the fresh feed. Therefore,
the recirculating load, RCL (%), is
RCL
SMDC
tph s
SMFF
tph s
100%
SMFF
tph s
19
Eq. (23) can be solved utilising the SAG mill discharge
solids ow, SMDC
tph s
, from Eq. (20) and the SAG mill
fresh feed solids ow, SMFF
tph s
, calculated in Step 6.
Potential now also exists to utilise the recirculating
load inferential measurement as a measure of SAG mill
performance. Control objectives and strategies could be
also formulated incorporating this measurement. For
instance, the recirculating load measurement (RCL)
could be utilised as feedback for control of SAG mill
water addition or primary cyclone underow split to the
ball mill (PC
split
).
5.3. Step 2: SAG mill rock charge
The SAG mill rock charge properties (SMRC) and
size distribution (smrc) are estimated by the reverse-
application of the SAG mill grate discharge function on
the SAG mill discharge stream estimate, incorporating a
size distribution assumption.
5.3.1. Solids
The mill discharge owrate Q (m
3
/h) for a grate dis-
charge mill is equal to the product of the owrate
through the mill charge, Q
m
(m
3
/h), and k
g
, a scaling
factor that accounts for coarse particles (Napier-Munn
et al., 1996):
Q k
g
Q
m
20
Q
m
6100J
2
pm
c
2:5
A/
1:38
D
0:5
21
where A is the total discharge grate open area (m
2
), D the
mill inside diameter (m), c the mean relative radial po-
sition of open area (fraction) and / the fraction critical
mill speed (fraction). Knowledge of the mill discharge
owrate allows the calculation of the nett fractional
1060 T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071
holdup of slurry in the mill charge interstices J
pm
(frac-
tion),
J
pm

Q
m
6100c
2:5
A/
1:38
D
0:5
_ _
0:5
22
Recognising that the mill volumetric discharge, Q
m
, is in
fact the mill product which consists of water and water-
like solids (solids of size < x
m
) p
xm
, i.e.,
p
xm
Q
m
23
allows the calculation of an initial estimate of the
maximum discharge rate constant (d
0
) and the volume
of water-like solids in the mill charge, s
xm
(solids of
size < x
m
) from
d
xm

p
xm
s
xm
24
where d
xm
is the maximum discharge rate constant (d
0
)
(h
1
) and the volume of water-like solids in the mill
charge, s
xm
(m
3
):
s
xm
J
pg
p
D
2
m
4
L
m
25
where L
m
is the mill (inside) length (m), D
m
the mill
(inside) diameter (m) and J
pg
the gross fractional holdup
of slurry in the mill (fraction):
J
pg
J
pm
J
po
26
where J
po
is the nett fractional slurry holdup in mill
dead zone (fraction), i.e., the fraction of the mill vol-
ume outside the outermost grate apertures:
J
po
0:331 r
n
27
where r
n
is the relative radial position of outermost grate
apertures (fraction).
The calculation of mill rock charge, s
i
(SMRC/smrc)
is possible using the maximum discharge rate, d
0
, the
mill product, p
i
(SMDC/smdc), and a simplied version
of the classication function, c
i
, detailed by Napier-
Munn et al. (1996), described by Eq. (28) and illustrated
in Fig. 3 along with: the original function (used for
process simulation).
c
i
0 for x Px
g
c
i

x
g
x
x
g
x
m
for x
m
< x < x
g
c
i
1 for x 6x
m
28
The mill rock charge, s
i
(SMRC/smrc), is then calculated
by manipulation of Eq. (7), i.e.,
s
i

p
i
d
0
c
i
29
Eq. (29) provides no information about the material in
the rock charge larger than the grate aperture size (x
g
).
This proportion of the rock charge may be estimated by
assuming that it can be approximated by a Rosin
Rammler distribution and then solving the following
system of q cumulative weight retained equations:

q
j1
s
j

q
i1
s
i

z
iq1
s
i
100 100 exp
_

x
a
_ _
b
_
30
where x is particle size (mm), i the particle size class
(i 1 the largest particle size, i q the smallest rock
size (16 mm) and i z the smallest particle size) and a
and b are the RosinRammler distribution parameters.
The second summation in the denominator of Eq. (30),
the summation of the material less than 16mm in size, is
determined from interpolating the rock charge infor-
mation obtained from Eq. (33).
The values of a and b for smrc are estimated con-
sidering the coarse end of the distribution is bounded by
the point (180.76 mm, 100% Passing) and the total
charge (J
t
) and ball charge (J
b
) level estimates from the
next step are determined independent of this step and
provide information on the amount of material in the
rock charge larger than 50 mm, J
r
(fraction), i.e.,
J
r
J
t
J
b
31
5.3.2. Water
The mill water charge, s
w
(t) may be calculated by
manipulation of Eq. (9), i.e.,
s
w

p
w
d
0
32
where p
w
is the SAG mill discharge water mass owrate
(t/h).
5.4. Step 3: total charge and ball charge lling levels
The fractional total lling (J
t
) and ball lling (J
b
) are
estimated independently solving the mill powerdraw and
mill weight equations. There is considerable overlap of
the equations utilised, however, two independent esti-
mates of the mill inventories result. Both estimates
consist of one residual equation in two unknowns (J
t
and J
b
). The calculation involved for each of these es-
timates will now be detailed.
5.4.1. Estimates from powerdraw
Analysis of Eq. (10) and its components yields that
given mill discharge, mill specications, mill model
parameters and measured mill powerdraw, the mill
powerdraw model can be reduced to one function of two
unknowns, i.e., volumetric ball charge fraction (J
t
) and
total charge volumetric fraction (J
b
) as described else-
where (Apelt et al., 2001a).
The mill inventory estimates from mill powerdraw
data are determined by the solution of Eq. (33) which
determines values for the total charge level (J
t
) and ball
charge level (J
b
) such that the calculated mill power-
draw, P
gross
, equates with the actual mill powerdraw
T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071 1061
measurement MV
kW
(kW), and therefore satisfying the
residual equality, F
kW
(kW):
F
kW
MV
kW
P
gross
0 33
5.4.2. Estimates from mill weight
A second residual, similar to Eq. (33), can be ob-
tained by the utilisation of the equations that describe
the mill weight. The mill inventory estimates from mill
weight data are determined by the solution of Eq. (34)
which determines values for total charge (J
t
) and ball
charge (J
b
) levels that equate the calculated mill weight
(M
shell
M
kidney
) (t) with the actual mill weight mea-
surement MV
weight
(t) and therefore satisfying the mill
weight residual equality, F
weight
(t):
F
weight
MV
weight
M
shell
M
kidney
0 34
In the inferential model uncertainty analysis section the
uncertainty in the mill inventory estimates from mill
powerdraw and mill weight is discussed. Potential now
exists to utilise the SAG mill volumetric charge infer-
ential measurements as a measure of SAG mill perfor-
mance and an indication of the prevailing conditions
within the mill. Control objectives and strategies could
be formulated incorporating these measurements. For
example, the mill ball charging rates could be mani-
pulated to control the ball charge according to the in-
ferential ball charge measurement. Also, the dierence
between the total and ball charge measurements, J
r
(see
Eq. (31)) could be utilised in a mill feedrate control loop,
e.g., reduce feedrate for high rock charge levels to pre-
vent mill overload and increase feedrate for low rock
charge levels to prevent damage to mill internals.
5.5. Step 4: SAG mill total feed
5.5.1. Solids balance
The solids component of the SAG mill total feed
(SMTF/smtf) is estimated by the inversion of the steady
state perfectly mixed mill model, Eq. (6). Rearranging
terms yields,
f
i
p
i

i1
j1
r
j
s
j
a
ij
1 a
ii
r
i
s
i
35
The estimate of total feed to the SAG mill, SMTF/smtf,
is determined as follows:
(a) the mill product, p
i
, and mill rock charge, s
i
, are
known from Steps 1 and 2, respectively.
(b) assuming a ball charge size distribution and using
the rock charge and ball charge information from
Steps 2 and 3, allows the determination of the spe-
cic comminution energy, Ecs
i
, the breakage para-
meter, t
10i
, and the appearance function, a
ij
.
(c) the breakage rate function, r
i
, is determined from the
ball charge information from Step 3 and the estimate
of the recycle ratio of 20 4 mm material and
fresh feed eighty percent passing size (F
80
) from the
previous time step (JKTech, 1994).
(d) using the information from (a) to (c), the total feed
estimate, f
i
is determined by solving Eq. (35).
The use of the steady state perfectly mixed mill model
is valid since the mill charge and discharge estimates are
determined from the prevailing operating conditions
regardless of whether the mill contents are increasing,
decreasing or at steady-state. A valid estimate of the
total mill feed is possible providing the calculation time
between the discharge and charge estimates and the total
mill feed estimate is relatively short.
5.5.2. Water balance
SAG mill total feed water is determined by the steady
state balance for the water:
Water in Water out
f
w
p
w
36
The water entering the mill f
w
(t/h) is equal to the water
in the SAG mill discharge stream p
w
(t/h), determined in
Step 1.
5.6. Step 5: oversize crusher product and primary cyclone
underow
The estimate of the oversize crusher product, OSCP/
oscp, is determined by applying the crusher model, Eq.
(37), to the estimate of the oversize crusher feed, OSCF/
oscf, determined in Step 1. The oversize crusher product
is then determined as follows:
p 1 C1 BC
1
f 37
where p is the crusher product by size (t/h) (OSCP/oscp),
f the crusher feed by size (t/h) (OSCF/oscf), B the
crusher breakage distribution function (fraction) and C
the crusher probability of breakage function (fraction).
The Nageswararao model (Napier-Munn et al.,
1996), is used to model the primary cyclones. The model
is comprised of several equations that predict cyclone
operating pressure (P), corrected fty percent passing
size (d
50c
), water recovery to underow (R
f
) and feed
slurry recovery to underow (R
v
). These equations are
functions of cyclone geometry, feed owrate and solids
density, and, feed ore characteristics. The size classi-
cation function is described by the eciency to overow,
E
oa
(fraction), equation:
E
oa
C
1 bb

xexpa 1
expab

x expa 2
_ _
38
where C is the water recovery to cyclone overow
(fraction), x the ratio of particle size to corrected 50%
passing size (d=d
50c
) (dimensionless), d the particle size
(diameter) (mm), a the eciency curve separation
1062 T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071
sharpness parameter (dimensionless), b the eciency
curve ne size eciency boost parameter (dimensionless)
and b

the eciency curve d


50c
preservation parameter
(dimensionless).
The estimate of the primary cyclone underow,
PCUF/pcuf, is determined by applying the cyclone
model to the estimate of the primary cyclone feed,
PCFD/pcfd, determined in Step 1.
5.7. Step 6: SAG mill fresh feed
The estimate of the SAG mill fresh feed (the new feed
from the stockpile), SMFF/sm, is determined by sub-
tracting (from the SAG mill total feed SMTF/smtf) the
SAG feed water addition MV
FD H2O
(m
3
/h), the estimate
of the oversize crusher product, OSCP/oscp, and the
recycled component (1 PC
split
) (fraction) of the pri-
mary cyclone underow, PCUF/pcuf:
SMFF
tph s
SMTF
tph s
OSCP
tph s
1 PC
split
PCUF
tph s
39
SMFF
tph l
SMTF
tph l
OSCP
tph l
1 PC
split
PCUF
tph l
MV
FD H2O
SG
l
40
smff

SMTF
tph s
smtf OSCP
tph s
oscp 1 PC
split
PCUF
tph s
pcuf
SMTF
tph s
OSCP
tph s
1 PC
split
PCUF
tph s
41
where SMFF
tph s
is the SAG mill fresh feed solids fee-
drate (t/h), SMFF
tph l
the SAG mill fresh feed liquid
feedrate (t/h), sm the SAG mill fresh feed size distri-
bution (%retained w/w), SMTF
tph s
the SAG mill total
feed solids feedrate (t/h), SMTF
tph l
the SAG mill total
feed liquid feedrate (t/h), smtf the SAG mill total feed
size distribution (%retained w/w), MV
FD H2O
the SAG
mill feed addition water process measurement (m
3
/h),
SG
l
the process water specic gravity (t/m
3
) and
(1 PC
split
) the recycled split-fraction of the primary
cyclone underow (fraction).
5.7.1. Fresh feed passing sizes
The estimate of the SAG mill fresh feed eighty per-
cent passing size, F
80
, is determined by interpolation of
the estimate of the size distribution, sm, at the 80%
mark. Similarly, the sixty, forty and twenty percent
passing sizes (F
60
, F
40
and F
20
, respectively) can be de-
termined.
Potential now exists to utilise the SAG mill fresh feed
size inferential measurements as a measure of crusher
or blasting performance and of feed size disturbances
reporting to the mill. The fresh feed solids inferential
measurement could be utilised for metallurgical ac-
counting purposes. Control objectives and strategies
could also be formulated incorporating these measure-
ments. For instance, the feed size measurements could
be utilised in feed-forward control of mill feedrate where
coarse feed results in feedrate reduction and and ne
feed leads to increases in throughput.
5.8. Primary cyclone underow split to the ball mill
The primary cyclone underow split to the ball mill,
PC
split
, was considered as one of the parameters in the
preceding discussion. It is also possible to construct an
inferential model of the split. In a discrete time frame, a
combination of:
present estimates of the SAG mill discharge, oversize
crusher feed and primary cyclone feed streams,
the primary cyclone underow split to the ball mill
from the preceding time step, and
models of the oversize crusher and primary cyclone,
allows the construction of a mass balance to estimate the
current primary cyclone underow split to ball mill.
PCUS
tph s k
is the solids component of the primary cy-
clone underow returning to the SAG mill (t/h) and
PC
split k
is the primary cyclone underow split reporting
to the ball mill (fraction) are determined by Eqs. (42)
and (43), respectively.
PCUS
tph s k
SMDC
tph s k
OSCP
tph s k
SMFF
tph s k
42
PC
split k
1
PCUS
tph s k
PCUF
tph s k
43
where SMDC
tph s k
is the solids component of the SAG
mill discharge (t/h),OSCP
tph s k
the solids component of
the oversize crusher product (t/h), SMFF
tph s k
the solids
component of the SAG mill fresh feed (t/h), PCUF
tph s k
is the solids component of the primary cyclone under-
ow (t/h) and k and k 1 are the present and previous
time steps, respectively.
The primary cyclone underow solids component,
PCUF
tph s k
(t/h), is obtained by the application of the
primary cyclone model to the primary cyclone feed,
PCFD
k
stream. The primary cyclone underow solids
component reporting to the SAG mill, PCUS
tph s k
, is
obtained from Eq. (42), with the SAG mill fresh solids
federate obtained from Eq. (39) utilising the cyclone
underow split from the previous time step PC
split k1
.
The oversize crusher product solids component
OSCP
tph s k
(t/h) is generated by the application of the
oversize crusher model to the oversize crusher feed es-
timate OSCF
k
.
The estimation of the primary cyclone underow split
to the ball mill, PC
split
, is important since it allows the
primary grinding circuit mass balance to be fully dened.
The full mass balance denition enhances the awareness
of and the ability to optimise operating conditions.
T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071 1063
5.8.1. Summary
Inferential measurements have been developed for
the SAG mill inventories, feed rate and sizing and mill
discharge rate and sizing. The inferential models utilise
process measurements and process models to obtain
novel inferential measurements of stream and inventory
characteristics. For example, the oversize crusher feed,
primary cyclone feed and mill discharge measurements
are utilised to obtain an inferential measurement of the
SAG mill discharge.
6. Results and discussion
The inferential model results were assessed by com-
parison to the results of a process simulation model. The
simulation used Eqs. (1)(9) and utilised inputs and
variables such as SAG mill fresh feedrate and size dis-
tribution. The process simulation model therefore acted
as a proxy for the real grinding circuit and generated
proxy data for the inferential models, Eqs. (10)(43), as
if from real grinding circuit instruments. It was the task
of the inferential model to use those proxy measure-
ments to infer the values of the process inputs and
conditions.
Figs. 4 and 5 contain the size distribution esti-
mate results of the inferential models for the mill
streams and the crusher and cyclone streams, respec-
tively.
Fig. 4: The upper left panel of Fig. 4 shows the SAG
mill discharge size distribution for the simulated stream,
Eq. (3), and as calculated by the inferential discharge
model given in Eq. (18). The upper right panel shows the
SAG mill rock charge size distribution for the simulated
mill, Eq. (1), and as calculated by the inferential rock
charge model, Eqs. (29) and (30). The panel on the lower
left shows the SAG mill total feed size distribution for
the simulated stream, specied fresh feed stream plus the
oversize crusher product, and as calculated by the in-
ferential total feed model given in Eq. (35). The panel at
lower right of Fig. 4 shows the SAG mill fresh feed size
distribution for the specied feed stream and as calcu-
lated by the inferential fresh feed model, Eq. (41).
Fig. 5: The upper left panel of Fig. 5 shows the
oversize crusher feed size distribution for the simulated
stream and as calculated by the inferential crusher feed
model given in Eq. (13). The upper right panel shows the
primary cyclone feed size distribution for the simulated
stream and as calculated by the inferential cyclone feed
model, also described by Eq. (13). The panel on the
lower left shows the oversize crusher product size dis-
tribution obtained by the application of the oversize
crusher model, Eq. (37) to the simulated and the infer-
entially modelled oversize crusher feed streams. The
Fig. 4. Size distribution estimatesmill streams. For each plot, the horizontal axis is the logarithm of particle size (in mm) and the vertical axis is
cumulative weight percent passing.
1064 T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071
panel at lower right of Fig. 5 shows the primary cyclone
underow size distribution obtained by the application
of the Nageswararao cyclone model (Napier-Munn
et al., 1996), including Eq. (38), to the simulated and
inferentially modelled cyclone feed streams.
Tables 1 and 2 contain the stream property estimate
results of the inferential models for the mill streams and
the crusher and cyclone streams, respectively. The eighty
percent passing size (P
80
) estimates are result of inter-
polating the information displayed in Figs. 4 and 5 at
the 80% passing size.
Table 1: The solids ow and density results in Table 1
correspond to the simulated plant information and the
inferential models of the SAG mill discharge, Eqs. (16)
and (17), SAG mill rock charge, Eqs. (29) and (30), SAG
mill total feed, Eqs. (35) and (36), and SAG mill fresh
feed, Eqs. (39) and (40).
Table 2: The solids ow and density results in Table 2
correspond to the simulated plant information and the
inferential models of the oversize crusher feed, Eqs. (10)
and (11), primary cyclone feed, Eqs. (14) and (15), the
application of the oversize crusher model to the crusher
feed streams and the application of the Nageswararao
cyclone model.
Fig. 5. Size distribution estimatescrusher and cyclone streams. For each plot, the horizontal axis is the logarithm of particle size (in mm) and the
vertical axis is cumulative weight percent passing.
Table 1
Stream property estimatesmill streams
Stream SMDC SMRC SMTF SMFF
Solids ow (t/h)
Simulation 252.10 45.67 252.20 185.00
Inferential 252.09 47.99 252.07 184.88
Error (%) 0 5 0 0
Density (%sols w/w)
Simulation 75.91 95.69 75.90 97.98
Inferential 75.93 94.75 75.93 98.06
Error (%) 0 1 0 0
P
80
Size (mm)
Simulation 16.36 97.33 84.01 94.55
Inferential 16.88 144.25 61.24 70.75
Error (%) 3 48 27 25
Table 2
Stream property estimatescrusher and cyclone streams
Stream OSCF PCFD OSCP PCUF
Solids ow (t/h)
Simulation 67.12 184.97 67.12 150.69
Inferential 67.11 184.97 67.11 146.10
Error (%) 0 0 0 3
Density (%sols w/w)
Simulation 99.92 50.80 99.92 70.74
Inferential 99.90 50.80 99.90 70.10
Error (%) 0 0 0 1
P
80
Size (mm)
Simulation 28.17 5.16 27.24 6.17
Inferential 43.47 2.55 37.71 3.27
Error (%) 54 51 38 47
T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071 1065
The mass balance components of the inferential
model estimates (Solids Flow and Density) in Tables 1
and 2 show very good agreement with the reference in-
formation (Simulation) for all streams. The estimates
are between 95% and 100% accurate (05% error) and
thus are considered acceptable.
The size distribution component of the inferential
model estimates (P
80
Size) in Tables 1 and 2 exhibit a
wider range of agreement with the reference information
(Simulation). The accuracy of the size distribution esti-
mates ranges between 46% and 97% (354% error).
The SAG mill discharge (SMDC) estimate displays
good agreement. The SAG mill rock charge (SMRC)
estimate, however, exhibits high relative error. This is
attributed to the extrapolating nature of the SAG mill
rock load inferential model (Step 2). Analysis of the
model found that the relative fraction pebble point open
area (f
p
) (i.e., the position of the transition point (x
g
; f
p
)
in Fig. 3) is highly inuential on the rock charge esti-
mate and the SAG mill feed estimates. Despite the large
errors in the rock charge size distribution, estimates are
obtained for the mill total feed (SMTF) and fresh feed
(SMFF) with less than 30% error and thus were con-
sidered acceptable.
The size distribution estimates for the oversize
crusher feed (OSCF) and product (OSCP) and the pri-
mary cyclone feed (PCFD) and underow (PCUF) ex-
hibit high relative errors (3854%). Since the estimates
of the SAG mill discharge (SMDC) and fresh feed
(SMFF) are not unduly aected, the oversize crusher
and primary cyclone stream size estimates are consi-
dered acceptable. Furthermore, the majority of model
parameters were tted manually which was consistent
with the research objectives.
Furthermore, the P
80
measure is an attempt at a single
point measure of a full size distribution. Relative
movement in the P
80
measurement over time is the most
important consideration rather than the absolute value
of the measurement itself (Davies et al., 2000).
6.1. Model validation
The inferential models presented in this paper have
been validated against a single set of reference steady
state conditions. Therefore, further model validation
would be required prior to entering an implementation
phase.
7. Inferential model uncertainty analysis
The inferential measurement of total charge (J
t
) and
ball charge (J
b
) lling levels (Step 3), diers from the
other inferential modelling steps in that process mea-
surements and measurement models are utilised in the
estimation process. The other steps utilise process mea-
surements and process models for estimation purposes.
Table 3 contains the estimates obtained for the total
charge (J
t
) and ball charge (J
b
) lling levels (Step 3) and
are presented in more detail elsewhere (Apelt et al.,
2001a).
The inferential model estimates in column (3) show
good agreement with the bracketed reference infor-
mation in column (1) as evidenced by the percentage
error results in column (4). Apelt et al. (2001a) also
conducted uncertainty analysis on the estimates since
the powerdraw residual, Eq. (33) and the weight resid-
ual, Eq. (34), exhibited a range of possible feasible so-
lutions. The uncertainty analysis was conducted by the
application of Eq. (44), the general formula for error
propagation (Taylor, 1982), to the mill powerdraw and
weight residuals.
df

N
i1
of
oh
i
dh
i
_ _
2

_
44
where f is a general function, h
i
is the ith model para-
meter in the error/sensitivity analysis, df uncertainty in
function f , dh
i
the uncertainty in ith parameter and N
the number of parameters.
Column (5) and (6) of Table 3 contains the results of
the uncertainty analysis. The relative uncertainty (with
respect to the reference simulation information) levels
were found to be generally acceptable (%30%) except for
the case of the total charge level (J
t
) estimate from the
powerdraw residual, Eq. (33), where there is a high level
of relative uncertainty (%180%). Consequently the utili-
sation of the mill weight residual, Eq. (34), for charge
level estimation was recommended.
Table 3
Mill charge level estimates
Inferential measurement (simulation) Model (Eq.) Estimate (vol frac) Error (%) Uncertainty
Absolute (vol. frac) Relative (%)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
J
t
(0.2298) F
kW
(33) 0.2297 0.04 0.42 181
F
weight
(34) 0.2328 1.3 0.06 26
J
b
(0.142) F
kW
(33) 0.1328 6.5 0.04 33
F
weight
(34) 0.1446 1.8 0.04 26
1066 T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071
The uncertainty results were also analysed in terms of
the relative contribution to the estimate error (RCE):
RCE
i

of
oh
i
dh
i
_ _
2

N
j1
of
oh
j
dh
j
_ _
2
100%
of
oh
i
dh
i
_ _
2
df
2
100%
45
where RCE
i
is the relative contribution to the estimate
error of the ith parameter, h
i
.
The relative contribution to estimate error analysis
showed that for the the mill weight residual, Eq. (34),
the most inuential parameters to the estimate uncer-
tainties are the mill weight process measurement,
MV
weight
(t), the mill shell weight, M
shell
(t), the mill in-
side length, L
mill
(m) and the mill inside diameter, D
mill
(m). These ndings highlighted the value of improved
mill weight measurement and suggested the inclusion of
a mill liner weight model where a dynamic mill weight
model is utilised.
For the mill powerdraw residual, Eq. (33), the most
inuential parameters to the estimate uncertainties are
the powerdraw lumped parameter, k (dimensionless),
the mill inside diameter, D
mill
(m), the mill powerdraw
process measurement, MV
kW
(kW) and the mill inside
length, L
mill
(m). These ndings suggest careful tting of
model parameter k, utilisation of best available power-
draw measurement, and regular measurement of the mill
internal dimensions.
Apelt (submitted for publication) found that the high
level of uncertainty (181%) in the total charge estimate
(J
t
) from the powerdraw residual, Eq. (33), is possibly an
overstatement due to the presence of compensating er-
rors which may be occur when a variable (e.g., J
t
) occurs
more that once in an equation (Taylor, 1982). However,
other factors, including equation non-linearity and the
concave shape of the powerdrawcurve, reinforce the high
level of uncertainty and favouring the utilisation of the
mill weight residual, Eq. (34), for charge level estimation.
7.1. SAG mill discharge
Table 4 contains the size indication results and rela-
tive errors for the SAG mill discharge. The error levels
increase with decreasing particle size. This trend is ex-
pected since the inferential model predicts a size distri-
bution that is more coarse and narrower than the
simulation data, refer to Fig. 4. The additive charac-
teristic of the cummulative passing format of the size
distribution also contributes to the error level trend.
Eqs. (44) and (45) were also applied to the mill dis-
charge and fresh feed estimates to highlight the inu-
ential parameters to the uncertainty in those estimates.
Referring to Table 5, the inuence of parameters varies
depending on the SAG mill discharge size estimate
under scrutiny. This is due to the relative importance
that the oversize crusher feed (coarse stream) and pri-
mary cyclone feed (ne stream) estimates play in the
respective discharge size estimates. Therefore, the coarse
mill discharge estimates (T
80
and T
60
) are inuenced most
by parameters utilised in the oversize crusher feed esti-
mate and the ne mill discharge estimates (T
40
and T
20
)
are inuenced most by parameters utilised in the pri-
mary cyclone feed estimate.
The estimates for mill discharge solids owrate and
density, see Table 1, exhibited excellent agreement with
the simulation data. An uncertainty analysis of the rate
and density was integral to the analysis of the size esti-
mates. Referring to last column of Table 5, the para-
meters that most strongly inuence the uncertainty in
the SAG mill solids discharge rate and density are three
of the parameters that aect the uncertainty in the size
indicators with the addition of the primary cyclone feed
water addition owrate. The inferential model of the
SAG mill discharge provides satisfactory indication of
discharge rate, density and size distribution. The results
show that to ensure minimum uncertainty in the infe-
rential mill discharge size indicators, SAG mill solids
discharge rate and density:
Table 4
Mill discharge size estimate summary
SMDC size
indicator
Passing size
Simulation (mm) Inferential (mm) Error (%)
T
80
16.36 16.88 3
T
60
5.64 6.43 14
T
40
1.43 2.16 51
T
20
0.18 0.44 143
Table 5
Inuential parameters: SAG mill discharge estimates
T
80
T
60
T
40
T
20
Rate and density
OSCF
tph p
OSCF
tph p
PCFD
m3ph p
PCFD
m3ph p
PCFD
m3ph p
PCFD
m3ph p
PCFD
%s w=w
PCFD
%s w=w
PCFD
%s w=w
PCFD
%s w=w
PCFD
%s w=w
SMD50c SMD50c SG
l
PCFW
m3ph l
SG
l
SG
l
OSCF
tph p
is the oversize crusher feedrate (t/h), PCFD
m3ph p
the primary cyclone feed owrate (m
3
/h), PCFD
%s w=w
the primary cyclone feed density
(%sols w/w), SMD50c the SAG mill discharge screen 50 passing size (mm), SG
l
the process water specic gravity (t/m
3
) and PCFW
m3ph l
the primary
cyclone feed water addition owrate (m
3
/h).
T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071 1067
the accuracy of the oversize crusher feed rate,
OSCF
tph p
(MV
scats
) should be checked periodically,
e.g., by calibration checks and belt-cuts.
calibration checks of the primary cyclone feed density
gauge measurement, PCFD
%s w=w
, and ow meter,
PCFD
m3ph p
, and primary cyclone feed water addition
owrate, PCFW
m3ph l
, should be conducted regularly
to ensure accuracy.
the SAG mill discharge screen aperture size should
be monitored and measured regularly to ensure the
corrected fty percent passing size, SMD50c, may
be adjusted as required.
the specic gravity of the process water, SG
l
, should
be checked periodically.
7.2. SAG mill fresh feed
Table 6 contains the size indication results and rela-
tive errors for the SAG mill fresh feed. The error levels
increase with decreasing particle size. This trend is ex-
pected since the inferential model predicts a size distri-
bution that is more ne and broader than the simulation
data, refer to Fig. 4. The additive characteristic of the
cummulative passing format of the size distribution also
contributes to the error level trend.
The parameters that have the most inuence on the
uncertainty in the inferential SAG mill fresh feed size
distribution measurement are the oversize crusher fee-
drate, OSCF
tph p
, the pebble port diameter, x
p
, the pri-
mary cyclone feed density, PCFD
%s w=w
and the pebble
port relative open area, f
p
.
The estimates for mill fresh feed solids owrate and
density exhibited excellent agreement with the simula-
tion data, see Table 1. An uncertainty analysis of the
rate and density was integral to the analysis of the size
estimates. The parameters that most strongly inuence
the uncertainty of the SAG mill fresh feed solids rate
and density are exactly those that strongly inuence the
SAG mill fresh feed size indicators, listed above.
Table 6 also contains the results of the plant
evaluation of the commercially available systemOOS
(Davies et al., 2000). The range of error for exhibited by
the OOS is 834%calculated from data presented in
the Davies et al. (2000) paper. For the inferential size
indication the error range is 2549%. These error levels
are comparable especially considering the particle size
range. The feed ore studied in this research is ner than
that evaluated with the OOS. Consequently, the errors
are comparatively larger.
The SAG mill fresh feed rate (solids and moisture) is
one of the measured variables available on the plant. As
a result it could be perceived that the solids feedrate
estimate has a lesser importance than the other estimates
presented here (especially considering the dry nature of
the fresh feed stream). However, it is an important es-
timate since production targets are set on a (dry) solids
throughput rate basis, and, it is an integral component
of the fresh feed density estimate which is required to
determine the (dry) solids production targets and, at an
operational level, is a characteristic for which indication
is desirable.
The inferential model of the SAG mill fresh feed
provides satisfactory indication of fresh feed rate, den-
sity and size distribution. The results show that to
minimise uncertainty in the inferential feed size indica-
tors and the feed solids rate and density estimates:
the accuracy of the oversize crusher feed rate,
OSCF
tph p
, should be checked regularly, e.g., by cali-
bration checks and belt-cuts.
due to the implicit importance of the oversize crusher
product size (via OSCF
tph p
), the accuracy of the
crusher gap setting should be checked regularly,
e.g., by dipping the crusher with a lead bob.
calibration checks of the primary cyclone feed density
gauge measurement, PCFD
%s w=w
, should be con-
ducted regularly to ensure accuracy.
the SAG mill discharge grate parameters, x
p
and f
p
,
should be tted with due care.
8. Conclusions and recommendations
Inferential measurement models for SAG mill dis-
charge and feed streams and inventories have been
presented and validated against reference simulation
model data. Satisfactory results were achieved and
augmented by uncertainty analyses that highlighted in-
uential model parameters. Further model validation
would be required prior to implementation. An infe-
rential model of the primary cyclone underow split to
the ball mill, PC
split
, was also introduced which al-
lows the full denition of the primary grinding mass
balance. The major ndings of this work are as follows:
8.1. Charge level
Good ball (J
b
) and total (J
t
) charge level estimates
can be obtained from residuals based on mill weight
or powerdraw measurements. The estimates agreed
with the reference simulation model data to within 7%
amongst the estimates, the uncertainty contained within
Table 6
Feed size estimate summary
SMFF size
indictator
Inferential model OOS system
Simulation
(mm)
Inferential
(%)
Error
(mm)
Size
(mm)
Error
(%)
F
80
95.54 70.75 25 136 8
F
60
65.84 45.57 30 90 20
F
40
38.72 20.34 46 55 24
F
20
16.49 8.40 49 34 34
1068 T.A. Apelt et al. / Minerals Engineering 15 (2002) 10551071
is of a broader spectrum. However, uncertainty in the
estimates ranged from around 30181%. Uncertainty
analysis concluded that ball charge level (J
b
) and total
charge level (J
t
) estimates obtained from the mill weight
residual contain the least uncertainty and are therefore
the recommended choice for charge level estimation.
8.2. Mill discharge
Good estimates of SAG mill discharge rate and size
distribution are possible. Error in the transfer size esti-
mates increases from the eighty percent passing size (T
80
)
to the twenty percent passing size (T
20
). This trend is due
to the inferential model predicting a size distribution
that is more coarse and narrower than the simulation
data and the additive characteristic of the cummulative
passing format of the size distribution.
Uncertainty analysis found that to minimise uncer-
tainty in these estimates errors may be minimised
through the monitoring of the SAG mill discharge
screen aperture size and the appropriate adjustment of
the corrected fty percent passing size, SMD50
c
, en-
suring the accuracy of the oversize crusher and primary
cyclone feed process measurements via periodic cali-
bration and the periodic verication of the process water
specic gravity, SG
l
.
The mill discharge model allows the calculation of the
recirculating load (RCL) which enables the full de-
nition of the primary circuit mass balance which allows
for monitoring, control and optimisation of the pre-
vailing operating conditions.
8.3. Mill fresh feed
Good estimates of SAG mill fresh feed rate and size
distribution are possible. The error levels in the estimate
of the size distribution increase with decreasing particle
size This trend is due to the inferential model predicting
a size distribution that is more ne and broader than the
simulation data and the additive characteristic of the
cummulative passing format of the size distribution.
Uncertainty analysis found that to minimise uncer-
tainty in these estimates by ensuring the accuracy of the
oversize crusher and primary cyclone feed instrumen-
tation, through regular calibration, and the crusher gap
setting, via regular lead-bob gap checking. The SAG
mill discharge grate parameters: pebble port size, x
p
; and
relative open area fraction of the pebble ports, f
p
; also
strongly inuence the size estimates and hence, should
be tted with due care.
Acknowledgements
Acknowledgements go to Northparkes Mines for
their assistance with and permission to publish circuit
information, the Centre for Process Systems Engineer-
ing for part hosting and the University of Sydney for
providing Australian Postgraduate Award funding for
this research.
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