Calculation and Scale-up of Breakage and Selection Functions of… 125

Calculation and Scale-up of Breakage and Selection
Functions of Sangan Iron Ore From A Laboratory Ball Mill
A. Farzanegan, A Khodadadi* and M. Aazami**
Assistant Professor, University of Kashan, *Assistant Professor, **Graduate Student,
Faculty of Engineering, Mining Department, Tarbiat Modares University,
Kashan, Iran Tehran, Iran
ABSTRACT: The grinding process consumes about 90% of the energy required in ore processing (crushing 5-
7% and explosives 3-5%). Therefore, its optimal design and operation is of great importance to mineral industry.
During last decade modeling and simulation have been used extensively for control and optimization of grinding
system. The two most important parameters in simulating grinding processes are breakage and selection
functions. These parameters can be obtained using laboratory ball mills. Selection function is scaled for larger
mills using mathematical models. Both grinding parameters were obtained for provided iron ore sample from
Sangan mine. The experimental results showed that breakage function is normalizable and ϕ, γ and β are 0.405,
1.5 and 6, respectively. The optimum diameter of grinding balls found to be about 25 mm. Finally, based on
industrial ball mill characteristics and calculated ball mill diameter, selection function parameters α, µ and Λ
were obtained to be equal to 1.63 , 4.5 and 6.5, respectively.
Sangan iron ore mine is located approximately
300 km away from the city of Mashhad in east
north of Iran. The design of iron ore processing
plant is based on well-established procedures
using Bond method. However, in this research
work, authors carried out some experimental tests
to build mathematical models for investigation
on various design options available. The object-
tive of using a simulator was to design the closed
ball milling circuit using population balance
modeling approach and finally use the results as
a double check of Bond method approach.
Computer simulation can assist mineral pro-
cessing engineers to design new grinding circuits,
but this is not, by no means, an easy task and
requires a lot of expertise and availability of
design data. The authors did experimental grin-
ding of representative iron ore samples collected
from two main anomalies, i.e., B and C, in a
laboratory ball mill to determine breakage
function of the ore and estimating the selection
function of industrial scale ball mill based on the
selection function found for the laboratory ball
2.1 Materials
Representative samples were obtained from
various ore zones of the Sangan mine. The
average chemical composition of the ore is given
in Table 1.
Table 1: Chemical composition of a sample of
Sangan iron ore
Fe2O3 68.03
MgO 7.78
Al2O3 0.65
SiO2 3.2
P2O5 0.02
SO3 16.8
Cl 0.05
Na2O 0.12
MnO 0.21
CaO 0.35
K2O 0.08
The ore is mostly composed of Fe2O3 and
MgO. Therefore grinding behaviour of the mineral
phases corrosponding to these components highly
affect the ore comminution process.
126  Mineral Processing Technology (MPT 2007)
2.2 Breakage Distribution Function
To fully characterize the grindability of the ore
samples, standard Bond work index tests were
performed first. The work indices of ore samples
of anomlies B and C were obtained to be equal to
13 kWh/ton and 15.1 kWh/ton, respectively.
Eight mono-sized fractions (-2000 + 1680, -1680
+ 1410, –1410 + 1190, –1190 + 1000, –1000 +
840, –840 + 710, –710 + 590 and –590 + 500
micron) were prepared and grinding tests were
carried out to determine the breakage function of
prepared samples. A laboratory batch mill
charged with grinding balls (characteristics and
test conditions are described in Table 2) were
used to do all tests, by placing adequate ore
sample inside the mill and for grinding for the
specified length of time. After each stage of
grinding, ground materials were discharged and
sieved with a Ro-Tap shaker, the remained mass
on each screen were measured. The sieved
material were put back into the mill and this
procedure were continued for a specified number
of time intervals.
Table 2: Ball mill characteristic and test
Mill shell Inner diameter D, mm 200
Length L, mm 200
Volume V, cm3 6280
Speed Critical speed, rpm 135
Operational speed, rpm 84
Diameter d, mm 9.6, 16.6, 25.4
Specific gravity 7.8
Average ball weight, g 155
Fractional ball filling, JB 0.24
Total mass, kg 6.477
Material charge Iron Ore
Specific gravity, g/cm
Total powder weight, g 300
Powder-ball loading ratio, U 0.40
Based on the raw data obtained from batch
grinding tests, ore breakage function were
estimated using BFDS software (Yousefi,
Farzanegan and Irannajad, 2005). Results of
these tests showed that the breakage function of
the tested ore is normalizable. The following
equation (Broadbent and Callcott, 1956) was
used to fit the cumulative breakage function:
( ) 1
γ β
x x
B x; y =φ +( φ)
y y
| ` | `

÷ ÷
. , . ,
where y) B(x; is the primary breakage
function when feed material are broken from
particle size γ to particle size x . Model para-
meters have been shown with ϕ, γ and β. The
best values of ϕ, γ and β were determined using
the non-linear optimization algorithm imple-
mented in BFDS software. These values are
equal to 0.405, 1.504 and 6.0, respectively. The
obtained model showed good conformity with
laboratory test.
2.3 Selection Function Estimation
To determine the selection function for a particle
size class, a semi-logarithmic curve of the
remained mass on the screen vs. grinding time is
plotted. Then, as grinding process of homo-
geneous ore follows a first order kinetics, the
slope of the line fitted to data points indicates the
selection function. Figure 1 shows the remained
mass on screen vs. grinding time for Sangan iron
ore samples.
Fig. 1: Remained mass on screen vs. grinding
time for Sangan iron ore
It is observed that data points are not on a
single line indicating non-homogeneous nature of
the tested sample. Indeed, the ore is constituted
of two major phases with different grindability
behavior. The initial part of the curve with a
higher slope (i.e., a higher selection function or a
higher specific rate of breakage) is related to the
soft phase and the rest of the curve with a lower
Calculation and Scale-up of Breakage and Selection Functions of… 127
slope is related to the hard phase which is ground
with a lower specific rate of breakage.
The semi-logarithmic plots of remained
mass vs. grinding time for B and C anomallies
showed that the grindability of ore samples from
anomaly C is lower than that of for anomaly B
(by comparing the slope of fitted lines). This
finding can also be confirmed by comparing the
work indices of ore samples of both anomalies. A
weighted average of selection functions of soft
and hard mineral phases were used in computer
simulations. The mass fraction of each phase in
the ore was used as weighting factor which yield
an average selection function equal to 0.00789
per second. To fit selection function data points,
Equation 2 was used (Austin, 1984, King, 2001):
( )
p Λ
s d
k d = ,Λ
| `
. ,
) k(d
is selection function
corresponding to particle size
. μ α, and

are characteristic parameters for the material
being broken and mill conditions.
S is the
selection function at particle size equal to 1 mm.
A number of grinding test were done to
investigate the effect of ball size on the selection
function. These tests were helpful to find the
optimum media size and also selection function
scale-up. Ball size of 9.6 mm, 16.6 mm and 25.4
mm were used in the tests. For a given grinding
ball size, the test mill selection function was
determined by assuming a first-order kinetics
grinding and a linear fit to experimental data to
obtain optimum value of the parameter defining
the slope of the line. Equation 2 was then used to
fit the plot of various estimated selection function
vs. screen or particle size.
Selection function for an operating industrial ball
mill is normally estimated based on particle size
distributions of its feed and discharge streams (by
screen analysis of plant samples collected from
both streams), design and operating conditions
with the help of parametric estimation software
such as NGOTC (Farzanegan, 1998). However,
in this study, the selection function determined
for the laboratory ball mill by grinding Sangan
iron ore samples had to be scaled up for the
designed industrial-scale ball mill which is not
installed yet.
In order to scale the laboratory or test mill
selection function, the effects of mill diameter
and media size were considered. Equations 3 and
4 were used to scale up for mill diameter and
media size, respectively (King, 2001).
( )
( )
( ) ( )
1 2.3
0.1 1 6.6J
1 6.6J 0.1
1 exp 15.7 0.94
1 exp 15.7 0.94
m c T
mT cT
Dφ S +
S D +φ

c U U
| ` | ` | `
÷ ÷ ÷

. , . , . ,
| ` ]
] . ,
D , J ,
φ and U are mill diameter,
fraction of mill volume filled by balls, mill
rotational speed and fraction of media interstices
filled by slurry, respectively. c is a constant
equal to 1.20 and 1.32 for dry and wet grinding
under normal slurry conditions, repectively
(Austin, 1984). Symbols with subscript T denote
the value of parameters under laboratory or test
3.1 Mill diameter effect
Table 3 shows various design parameters of the
industrial-scale ball mill which were used in
Equation 3 to obtain scale-up factor. Accor-
dingly, a scale-up factor equal to 12.37 was
found which then used to calculate the selection
function for the industrial ball mill (Aazami,
Table 3: Industrial mill specification
Design Parameter Value
Mill diameter (m) 6.01
Mill length (m) 10.2
Fraction of mill volume filled by 30
128  Mineral Processing Technology (MPT 2007)
ball charge, J (%) Mill rotational speed (% of Ncs) 70
Calculation and Scale-up of Breakage and Selection Functions of… 129
action of media interstices
filled by slurry, U
3.2 Ball Size Effect
The selection function scaled up in the previous
section, with respect to mill size effect, was
further scaled to also include ball size effect.
Equation 4 allows for taking into account the
distribution of ball sizes in the industrial ball mill
and ball size used in test mill (King, 2001):
k α
p 1 p Λ
k(d )= S d
| `
. ,
| `
. ,
d and
m denote representative
diameter of the
th ball size class and mass
fraction of the k th ball size class in the mill
charge, respectively.
N is a constant.
μ is
calculated using the following equation:
2 3
k m k
kT mT T
D d
D d
| ` | `
÷ ÷
. , . ,
N ,
N are constants. For
recommended values of the constants refer to
King, R.P. 2001.
Two basic grinding model parameters including
Breakage (distribution) function and selection
function were determined for simulation of the
proposed closed ball milling circuit at Sangan
iron ore processing plant. These parameters were
successfully used by the authors to predict the
performance of ball milling circuit proposed by
the plant designers. The batch ball milling tests
performed on the samples of the two main
anomalies indicate that the ore of anomaly B is
softer than that of anomaly C and their breakage
follows first-order kinetics. Also, the breakage
functions determined for various particle sizes
show the breakage function for both anomalies
are reasonably normalizable. As breakage
function is considered to be a property of the
material being ground (such as minerals and
ores), therefore they were used for later circuit
simulations without any scale-up. The shape of
the selection function vs. particle size curves
obtained by grinding of samples using various
ball sizes was used to determine the optimum
range of grinding media size. In laboratory tests,
the onset point of abnormal breakage was
observed around 1350 μm for 9.6 mm grinding
ball size. However, with increasing grinding ball
size to 25.4 mm, no abnormal breakage was
The results showed that the breakage function of
both anomalies is independent of the particle
size. But the specific rate of breakage changes
with feed size and ball size. Also optimum size of
ball for grinding of this feed is between 9.6 mm
and 16.6mm. Ore from anomaly C is harder than
that of from anomaly B which is also confirmed
by bond work index values.
The authors thank Sangan Iron Ore Mine for
permitting access to the project site providing
required data and ore samples.
[1] Aazami, M., Simulation of Comminution Circuit
of Sangan Mine mineral processing plant, M.Sc.
thesis, 2005, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran,
[2] Broadbent, S.R. and Callcott, T.G., Coal
breakage Processses: I. A new analysis of coal
breakage processes, Journal of the Institution of
Fuel. 29, (Dec.): 524-528.
[3] Austin, L.G., Klimpel, R.R. and Luckie, P.T.,
Process Engineering of size reduction: Ball
Milling, 1984, SME, New york, New york, USA.
[4] Farzanegan, A., Knowledge-based optimization
of mineral grinding circuits, Ph.D. thesis. 1998,
McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
[5] King, R.P., Modeling and simulation of mineral
processing systems, 2001, Butterworth-
Heinemann, Oxford, Great Britain.
130  Mineral Processing Technology (MPT 2007)
[6] Yousefi, A.A., Farzanegan, A. and Irannajad, M.,
Indtroducing BFDS software for determination
of ore breakage functions, 2005, Iranian Mining
Engineering Conference, Tehran, Iran.

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