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PRELIMINARY STUDY OF MICROWAVE ENERGY APPLICATION ON THE GRINDABILITY OF COPPER-MOLYBDENUM SULPHIDE MINERALS

During the process of separating valuable material and waste, energy is consumed, which represents a high cost to mining production. It is estimated to be equivalent to 35% of metal selling price. This high energy consumption is required in the crushing and milling processes, during which a high level of reduction is sought in order to achieve smaller and smaller sizes that allow the release of valuable ore for its subsequent recovery as a concentrate. The aim of this paper is to research and quantify the possible positive effects on the cost of energy involved, which would be achieved by applying microwave energy. The test was conducted on mineralized rock of a copper-molybdenum porphyry from Cerro Verde mine.

Samples of mineralized rock were collected, with an average grade of 0.54% Cu and a work index tested in laboratory of 16 Kw.hr/ton. These samples were subjected to grindability tests in a laboratory ball mill, with and without microwave application using a domestic microwave oven. Results obtained show a saving of 7,53% in grinding time and low use of microwave energy. The samples were also subjected to work index (Wi) tests under different exposure times to microwave energy, at 1100 Watts power and 2,450 MHz frequency, obtaining a Wi reduction of 16 to 5 kw-hr/ton with 60 seconds of exposure, which means a work index reduction of up to 68%.

On an initial and timely basis, based on the tested sample and results obtained through this study, a technological route of industrial application is opened for the comminution processes of sulphide minerals in our mining industry.

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