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SAG MILL OPERATIONS IN SOSSEGO MINE

*L. C. R. Machado1, A. M. Mendona1, R. A. Fonseca1 and M. A. N. Rosa1

Vale S/A
Mina do Sossego s/n, Garoy
Cana dos Carajs, PA, 68537-000
(*Corresponding author:Luis.machado@vale.com)

SAG MILL OPERATIONS IN SOSSEGO MINE


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.

Figure 1: 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

Figure 2. SAG mill circulating load as a function of campaign of lifters.


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.

Pack of lifters - Jan/11 - Mai/11

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

Total charge of mill - %


Fev

Mar

Abr

Figure 3. SAG mill throughput as a function of consume of pack of lifters.


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

Total Charge of Mill - %


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 for 30% Total Charge

Weight target - t

1100
1000
900
800
700

y = -3,5932x - 28,324x + 996,35

600
500
0,0

0,5

1,0

1,5

2,0

2,5

3,0

3,5

4,0

4,5

Run of Pile (cumulative tonnes processed) - Mt

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

Sag throughput - t/h

1900
30,0

1600
5,0

1550

0,0

1500
3

F80 interval - inches

Freqency

Sag throughput

Figure 6. SAG mill throughput a function of feed F80.


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

Sag throughput - t/h

Frequency - %

Histograme of Critical fraction ( "-3+1")

1600

5,0
0,0

1500
20

25

30

35

40

Retained of critical fraction - %


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

Sag throughput - t/h

Figure 8. Bond Work Index(WI) as a function of SAG mill throughput.


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).

Histograme Circulanting Load


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

intervals of circulanting load - %


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.

kWh/t x Sag Mill Throughput


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

Specific power at motor Sag - kWh/t

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.