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The ball mill grinds. The cyclones separate.

But the pump neither grinds nor

So what is the purpose of having such a big pump to maintain high circulating loads
in our grinding circuit?
Metcoms recent grinding bulletin addresses this question from the perspective of
Classification System Efficiency (CSE). Simply put, CSE is an emerging efficiency
metric that is equal to the percentage of 'coarse' material in the ball mill, and thus
also equal to the percentage of useful ball mill power.
Re-circulating load is consequence of presence coarse particles in reverse cycle.
From general point of view , specially if is about of processing very hard and dens
material, this problem might be caused by: using not adequate equipment for
comminution (bad selection), bad design of crushing stages or the problem in
classification (hydrocyclone) etc.
So the problem can be solved if we consider the origin of coarse particles.
Decreasing re-circulating load should be solved from the beginning stage-blasting!
Not optimized blasting might cause appearance of very coarse particles that cannot
be reduced significantly through the crushing and grinding stages. Also application
of some high efficient impactors/crushers in crushing stages can affect size
reduction of the materials or considering replacing ball mill and using different types
of grinding charges etc.
The purpose of a circulating load is simply to reduce overgrinding of particles
already at or below the desired size, and improve the efficiency of grinding. As an
example consider a simple breakage matrix wherein 12mm particles are reduced to
1x6mm, 2x3mm and 1x2mm; 6mm particles are reduced to 1x3mm and 2x2mm;
and 3mm particles are reduced to 1x2mm and 1x1mm.
If we assume a simple system where 10x12mm particles constitute the feed, and
the desired output is 2mm, then the first pass produces 10x6mm, 20x3mm and
10x2mm - the latter being the only particles below spec. If the oversize is returned
in a circulating load then on the second pass we have 10x12mm of fresh feed,
combined with 10x6mm and and 20x3mm in the recirculating load. Using the same
breakage matrix we get an outcome of 10x6mm, 30x3mm, 50x2mm and 20x1mm.
Again removing (by cyclosizer) those particles under 2mm, we get a feed for the
third pass of 10x12mm, 10x6mm, and 30x30mm particles, producing an output of
10x6mm, 30x3mm, 60x2mm and 30x1mm particles. If particles under 2mm are
removed by cyclosizing we find that the feed (and output) for the fourth pass is
identical to that of the third pass, and thus a steady state has been achieved.
Consequently a high recirculating load (typically 200-400% of feed) allows a high
proportion of sub-size particles to be produced despite the relative inefficiencies of

modern grinding processes. Of course in reality actual breakage matrices can be

quite complex, but the basic principle behind recirculating loads remains consistent,
so it is simply a matter of quantifying the efficiency/beghaviour of each stage of
Just to add to my last comment, it's the breakage matrix you need to consider when
looking at the required circulating load for a mill. This breakage behaviour is
obviously influenced by the properties of the ore itself, but also operating
parameters such as mill speed and the size distribution of grinding media. Residual
stresses imparted by upstream processes, such as a HPGR, can also be a factor and
a potential means of improving mill efficiency/throughput.
The most significant factor causing high recirculating loads in grinding circuits is
classifier efficiency. Hydraulic classifiers such as hydrocyclones conventionally find
their way into grinding circuits but they are very inefficient. For example: in a mill
circuit grinding to 80% passing 75 micron the cyclone underflow will typically
contain 12% to 14% minus 75 micron material i.e. mill feed rate x circulating load %
x 12% to14% returning to the mill. The cyclone overflow will also exhibit a wide
particle size distribution with top size of circa 300 micron.
Enter the Derrick StackSizer screen, a physical classifier that gives a clean cut size
and a mill product stream exhibiting a narrow particle size distribution (very
beneficial for downstream processes). Derrick Corporation claims that replacing a
hydrocyclone with a StackSizer screen in a mill circuit results in up to 40% reduction
in mill circuit recirculating load. This equates to a massive reduction in mill power
consumption per ton of ore milled.
However, I can imagine that retrofitting a StackSizer screen in a mill circuit will pose
certain challenges e.g. the mill will all of a sudden be too large for the application,
the mill discharge pump will be too large for the application, etc.
I would like to hear from anybody who has executed such project.
High circulating loads are because of two reasons, (1) to avoid overgrinding, that is,
if you would grind finer and thus recirculate less, then your product would be too
fine (using a typical ball mill) and your process would become even less energyefficient and (2) as Joe indicates, cyclone inefficiency, because cyclone separate on
the basis of specific density and not particle size, which is even worse considering
that that ore particles typically are heavier and smaller and gangue particles lighter
and larger. My understanding is that circulating load can reduce from 250% to 100%
when using screens instead of cyclones, but I wonder if that will work with large
mining operations of say over 100.000 tpd as is typical in Chile.
I understand that Dynamill is only available for IOS. You could suggest them to see if
it could be made available for android. The effect of the Sump Pump of the cyclone

performance are critically demostrated. Most of the Comminution Design

Applications are static, The proper time constants and inertia of the belt, pump,
sump, SaG, Ball Mill, Hydrocyclone banks and hydrostatic pulp pressure are never
considered in Static Design Applications.
It is a lot of fun to play with Dynamill to fine tune the operation to get the maximum
throught while getting the right particle size distribution in the cyclone overflow
while having your type of ore, sump size, mill sizes, limited amount of water and
number of cyclones with vortex finder and spigot dimensions. You can also try to
find the proper control strategy depending on your type of mill disturbances ( size
distribution, ore hardness, specific energy consumption.)
Joe van Niekerk, I agree with you. However, it is necessary to analyze the process
from the beginning before taking any actions. Also ore characteristics are very
important for further consideration.
Application of StackSizer screen is good solution in processing of hard, abrasive and
dens material which has a big commintuion resistance. In this case, mechanical
classification can replace successfully hydraulic classification.
However, I think that efficient grinding media and suitable ball mill will additionally
improve size reduction and decrease contamination of coarse particles. For this
purpose, intensive lab and pilot investigation has to be carried out.
The higher the circulating load the more efficient the grinding action. The trade-off
is the size of the pump(s) and clasifying device(s). Considering the wasted energy
and losses due to overgrinding, we should really be planning for 5-600% circulating
loads. It's also a fact that screening is more efficient if it can be used. Considering
that grinding takes so much of the energy in a plant, tyhere differencers cannot be
overlooked as they have been. Think green.
circulating load is the amount of material returning to a comminution equipment (in
this case ball mill) in a closed circuit system. for every material entering into a
system, the products to be obtained are dependent on the nature of the material as
of the time of entry into the system and the conditions offered the material a it is in
the system. from my point of view, i believe a very coarse material will yield a
higher circulating load. since milling is the first stage of comminution and as a
matter of fact a part of disintegration, the size of feed to the mill will be greatly
influenced by the prior disintegration processes i.e. blasting and crushing. if the
efficiency of blasting and crushing is low, it is most likely to have very coarse
material as mill feed and therefore depending on the mill design parameters, a lot
of coarse material relative to the fines will be produced at the classification stage
and thus a lot of circulating load.
on the other hand, if the nature of the mill feed is as expected and grinding
efficiency is faulty, then u should be looking at the mill's design, operational

parameters and factors. u should be looking at factors such as the mill type relative
to the ore; the speed of the mill which is inversely dependent on the mill diameter;
the energy required to grind which depends on the work index of the material, the
feed size and the expected product size; the residence time of the feed which will
depend on the throughput; the ball sizes and quantity; the mill liners and lifters and
the forces at play in the mill.
a deviation in the parameters used to run the mill will cause a deviation in the
expected products and thus may increase the amount of material that will circulate
in the system in a closed circuit
My experience is based in dry ball mill milling and in vertical stirred wet milling for
ultrafine slurries of non metallic minerals.
As has been said in this discussion, high recirculating loads results in overgrinding
and gives wider particle size distributions to the finished products. This can be an
advantage or an inconvenient depending on the desired fineshed product
performance at the final application, therefore, this is a particular tool for designing
your product characteristics.
On the other hand, dry ball mill milling has to be completed with ultrafine air
dynamic classifiers, playing similar role than hydrocyclons. For such air classifiers,
the yield for classification highly depends on the fineness concentration at feed,
beign desireable at least a 70%. Therefore, high recirculation also has a good effect
on this classifying performance.
Further classifying after a first classifying stage can be done, then, the products
could be splited in two for having both an even finer product and another fine but
very vertical product. The purpose for such a different classifying and grinding
configurations is obtaining real special top performing products that should be
improving the final application to pay back such an energy investment in all those
Please considere that dry ball mill milling is a very unefficient energy process (more
that 95% of energy is lost by means friction heat, therefore you would not consider
the high overload as a way to grind coarser feeds, this being a common mistake. In
the milling process design, ball mill load and feed particle size should play the most
important role for a proper energeticaly susteinable