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Vale S/A

Mina do Sossego s/n, Garoy

Cana dos Carajs, PA, 68537-000

(*Corresponding author:Luis.machado@vale.com)

ABSTRACT

Sossego Mine was the first Vale SAG mill operation to process copper-gold ore. It is located in

the state of Para, in the south-eastern Amazon region of Brazil. In the first six years of continuous

operation, Vale investigated different alternatives for improving circuit performance by investigating

operating conditions, mainly focusing on the SAG mill.

Today, after a steady increase over five years the annual production rate seems to have stabilized.

It is hoped this work will show how the SAG operating practice have been perfected with time and as new

data are collected. Historical data of mill grind-outs and crash stops helped create operation curves

depending on the ball charge volume and total charge volume. Also noted were impacts on throughput due

to the effect of reducing liner weight and the ore type characteristics.

KEYWORDS

Sossego, SAG, grate, ore, circulating load.

INTRODUCTION

Sossego is the first Vale project in the copper business. It is based on a copper-gold resource

discovered in early 1997 comprising of the Sequeirinho and Sossego adjacent orebodies. The mine is

situated approximately 70 km south-west of the Carajs area, near the town of Cana dos Carajs, in the

south of Para state, Brazil. The concentrator was designed to process 41,000 metric tons per day which is

equivalent to 15 million metric tons per year from an open pit mine. The proven reserve is 255 Mt with an

average grade of 1.0% Cu and 0.3 g/t Au. The ore is granite with significant incidence of magnetite, with

typical Bond ball mill work indices (WI) of 17 to 20 kWh/t and very high abrasiveness indices.

Operation of the Sossego mine and processing plant started in April 2004 targeting an average

concentrate production of 540,000 metric tons per year at 30% Cu and 8 g/t Au.

Industrial Circuit

The Sossego industrial plant comprises a typical high-tonnage primary crushing-SABC-flotation circuit

based on large capacity equipment in each unit operation. A brief description of the Sossego circuit

follows.

Primary Crushing

Run-of-Mine ore is delivered to a 60x89 gyratory crusher by 240 ton rear dump trucks. The primary

crusher operates with a nominal closed side setting of 140 mm which results in a P80 of 125-150 mm.

Crushed ore is conveyed to a conical pile adjacent to the concentrator by a 4 km conveyor belt operating at

a nominal rate of 2,300 t/h.

Crushed Ore Stockpile

The conical ore stockpile has a live capacity of 41 kt, equivalent to 24 hours of plant operation. Three

tandem apron feeders are located underneath the stockpile feeding a single conveyor belt that supplies the

SAG mill.

Grinding

The grinding circuit consists of a single line configured as SABC with a nominal capacity of 1.841 t/h. A

11.58 meters diameter by 7.01 meters (EGL) SAG mill is driven by a 20 MW gearless motor. The SAG

mill discharges onto two 3.65 x 7,31 m horizontal vibrating screens whose oversize is conveyed to the

recycle crushing building where two MP800 cone crushers reduce the pebbles to a nominal P80 of 12 mm.

The crushed product is sent to the SAG mill feed closing the circuit. The screen undersize is pumped to two

separate nests of 838.2 mm hydrocyclones. Each nest underflow is sent to one of two 6.70 x 9.75 m ball

mills, equipped with 8.5 MW motor single pinion fixed speed drives. The targeted P80 of the hydrocyclone

overflow is 0.21 mm at 40% solids.

Flotation and Regrinding

The hydrocyclone overflow from each ball mill circuit feeds the rougher stage consisting of seven 160 m

cells. Rougher tailings from both lines reports to the regrind circuit consisting of two Vertimills (1,500 HP

motor each) operating in a reverse mode with 380 mm hydrocyclones. The regrind circuit product, with a

nominal P80 of 0.044 mm is pumped to six cleaner flotation columns (4.27 x 10 m). The column tails feeds

one row of seven 70 m cleaner/scavenger cells. The cleaner-scavenger concentrate is combined with the

rougher concentrate, thus forming the circulating load of the flotation circuit. The cleaner-scavenger tails

are pumped to the tailing dam, whereas the cleaner concentrate is pumped to a thickener.

Thickening and Filtering

Final concentrate flows by gravity to a 20 m diameter thickener. The thickener overflow is recycled to the

flotation feed and the underflow is pumped at 60% solids to the filter plant tanks. From the filter feed tank

concentrate is pumped to two filters. The filtrate returns to the thickener and the cake with 9% moisture is

stocked in a 5250 t capacity conical pile, located in a moisture controlled building. The concentrate is

reclaimed by front end loaders to 35 t haul trucks which dump it in a storage building in the city of

Parauapebas and then transport it by an 800 km railway to the port of Itaqui, in Maranho state. Figure

1shows a summary of the Sossego flowsheet.

DISCUSSION

The SAG mill has been operating since 2004 and the article by Delboni (2006) discusses this early

stage. After several difficulties, most of the parameters were stabilized and controlled. After a new period

of learning, new parameters have begun to be studied.

Below is a brief discussion of these parameters and how they are monitored in operation of the

SAG mill at the Sossego mine.

Circulating Load

The circulating load is greatly influenced by the grate discharge slot opening. The Sossego SAG

mill has no pebbles ports, and after extensive testing (37generations of grates) the initial slot opening is

currently 76.2 mm, with double grates and a total open area of 8.9 m2. There are 16 grates and each month

(after processing ~ 1,000,000 t), 4 new grates are exchanged. At the end of 4 months there is a regime of

stable total open area. From the time that it took this exchange cycle, the circulating load of SAG acquired

another pattern. Previously, all the grates were exchanged simultaneously after 4 months of operation. With

this procedure, the circulating load was low in the first month and increased considerably as it approached

the end of grate life. With the alternating exchange cycle, this problem disappeared. The main influence on

the circulating load currently is wear of the cylinder body lining. Figure 2 illustrates this for the last two

lifters exchanges in 2010/2011.

There is an increased circulating load current depending on lifter wear and lower grinding media

launch from the lifter face angle in the SAG mill.

Circulanting Load

70

60

Circ. Load - %

50

40

30

20

10

0

Time - hours

jan/11-Mai/11

out/10-jan/11

Total Charge of Mill

One of the major operating variables of the Sossego SAG mill was in the range of total charge

levels. As the mill does not have an electronic ear to measure mill acoustics, it is necessary perform crash

stops and grind-outs regularly to measure the ball and total charge level in the SAG mill.

Figure 3 shows the results in terms SAG mill throughput. Note that for a same pack of lifters

(january at may/2011) is initially set to work with a total charger lower and is consumed as it is necessary

to elevate the total charge to obtain rates at higher levels.

2100

throughput - t/h

1900

1700

1500

1300

1100

900

700

500

24,0

26,0

28,0

30,0

32,0

34,0

36,0

38,0

Fev

Mar

Abr

The ball charge also influences SAG mill throughput a lot with a higher ball charge corresponding

to a higher total charge of mill for elevate throughput and vice versa (see Figure 4).

Balls ChargeX Total Charge of Mill

2100

1900

throughput- t/h

1700

1500

1300

1100

900

700

500

24,0

26,0

28,0

30,0

32,0

34,0

36,0

38,0

16,40%

14,85%

13,79%

12,77%

Ball Charge

Figure 4. SAG mill throughput as a function of ball charge and total charge from actual plant operating.

Target Weight

Normally, the total charge of mill is 30%. This is controlled by the measurement following crash

stops which determine the load cell weight that corresponds to the charge filling. With the range of data

collected from the crash stops, it was possible to construct a theoretical curve of weight reduction. Target

weight is reducing as more mass is processed in the mill and the lifters are being consumed (Figure 5).

Thus weight control of the SAG became more constant and ensures higher levels of mill throughput most

of the time.

Weight target - t

1100

1000

900

800

700

600

500

0,0

0,5

1,0

1,5

2,0

2,5

3,0

3,5

4,0

4,5

Figure 5. SAG mill weight target for total charge of 30% as a function of feed run of pile for campaigns of

lifters.

Feed Size Distribution

The SAG mill throughput profile in relation to feed F80 is shown in Figure 6 (monthly sampling).

Note that the highest throughput is achieved for an F80 between 4 and 5 inches. For higher and lower sizes

the throughput is smaller.

Histograme F80 X Sag Mill Throughput

2000

40,0

1950

35,0

Freqency - %

1850

25,0

1800

20,0

1750

1700

15,0

1650

10,0

1900

30,0

1600

5,0

1550

0,0

1500

3

Freqency

Sag throughput

However, when observing the critical size fraction (-75 +25 mm), which historically the ideal

working range lies between 10 to 15% in the Sossego mine is an amendment to this law (Starkey, 2010).

The greater frequency the critical fraction correspond the higher SAG mill throughput (see Figure 7). This

event is associated to the fact that the critical fraction has many faces available for breakage, while most of

the pebbles generated provide the coarser fractions (+ 100 mm) that when they break, a critical size fraction

is generated.

35,0

2100

30,0

2000

25,0

1900

20,0

1800

15,0

1700

10,0

Frequency - %

1600

5,0

0,0

1500

20

25

30

35

40

Frequency

Sag throughput

Figure 7. SAG mill throughput a function of retained of critical fraction of feed and frequency distributions

(monthly sampling).

Ore Characteristics

It is not possible to disregard the influence of ore characteristics. In correlation with the Bond

Work Index (WI), the historical record of monthly average throughput occurred when the plant was fed an

ore with a WI below historical average, providing a value of 1,900t/h (see Figure 8). The typical WI is 17

kWh/t.

Sag Mill Throughput x WI

19,0

18,0

17,0

WI - kW/t

16,0

15,0

14,0

13,0

12,0

11,0

10,0

1500

1550

1600

1650

1700

1750

1800

1850

1900

1950

The circulating load in this period of lower WI is atypical. It had a bimodal distribution because of

the entry of this ore (see Figure 9).

20

18

Porcentagem - %

16

14

12

10

8

6

4

2

pl

us

43

41

39

37

35

33

31

29

27

25

23

21

19

17

15

11

,0

13

,0

9,

0

5,

0

7,

0

Lower WI (out/10)

Normal WI (jan/11)

Figure 9. SAG mill circulating load with bimodal distribution as a function of ore with smaller Bond Work

Index

Energy Consumption

There is a relationship of SAG motor specific power and mill throughput (see Figure 10).

However, note that this type of data allows Sossego to evaluate problems of energy consumption at the

plant, since for the same SAG mill throughput there is a distinct energy consumption. Reduced rates due to

pebble cone crusher problems are easily detected by these relationships.

Sag throughput - t/h

1950,0

1900,0

1850,0

1800,0

1750,0

1700,0

1650,0

8,00

9,00

10,00

11,00

12,00

13,00

Figure 10. SAG throughput as a function of monthly SAG mill specific motor power)

14,00

CONCLUSIONS

There are plenty of data stored in six years of operation and there are still much to analyze and correlate.

Only as mall part are presented here. For example, information of quality results in knowledge and fine

control of the SAG mill operation and this is sought continuously and systematically at Sossego.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors wish to thank Vale S/A for permission to publish this paper.

REFERENCES

Delboni, H., Rosa, M. A. N., Bergerman, M. G. and Nardi, R. P. (2006) Optimisation of the Sossego SAG

mill, SAG 2006, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B. C., Canada.

Starkey, J. & Scinto, P. (2010) SAG Mill Grinding design versus geometallurgy Getting it right for

competent ores, , XXV International Mineral Processing Congress (IMPC) Proceedings,/ 6 - 10

September, Brisbane, Qld., Australia.

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