Thematic Objectives of Centre
COEMinerals seeks to enable transformational change in minerals processing. We have adopted industry goals to arrive at our own stretch targets to:
- double energy and water productivity in the mining sector by 2030, maintaining the drive towards the ‘zero-emission mine’.
- reduce the loss of high-value metals during minerals processing by 90%, while increasing the concentration of the recovered products used in metals refining, meeting the escalating global demand for metals.
Reduction in Energy & Water Consumption
The process of grinding rocks down to ultrafine particles is the single biggest consumer of energy in the minerals industry. Our objective is to deliver new technologies to reduce the use of energy and water by as much as 50%. New crushing modes to achieve fracture along the mineral grain boundaries, novel reagents, and new separators to remove the waste rock at a coarser size offer significant prospects.
Fast & Efficient Separations
We will apply our advances in fast and efficient beneficiation of fine particles to achieve a 10 – 100 fold increase in separation speed, and significant reduction in the plant foot-print. This approach helps to redefine economically what is a tailings stream. Our approach will be achieved primarily through enhancing hydrophobic interactions and novel system hydrodynamics, to increase product recovery, selectivity and hence product grade.
Dry Stackable Tailings
We will apply our advances in‘fast, efficient beneficiation’ of fine particles to solid-liquid separation in order to recover waste solids, reducing water losses and increasing water productivity. We will then recover targeted solids and exploit hydrophobic interactions to enhance de-watering.
Program 1: Physics of novel system hydrodynamics
Maximising the robustness, efficiency, and speed of separation are critical elements of any transformational mineral beneficiation technology. This will be achieved by building knowledge and understanding of a broad range of novel hydrodynamic systems to determine the potential to approach the theoretical limits of separation, traversing the particle size range of interest.
Program 2: Chemistry of novel hydrophobic and selective interactions
New approaches to flotation are required to advance selectivity and to properly exploit the full-potential of hydrophobic interactions in effecting coarser separations, ultrafast and selective separations and a step-change in solid-liquid separation.
Program 3: New engineered biopolymers and synthetic polymers
New approaches to the synthesis of more effective and cheaper polymers are now available for exploitation in minerals processing. These could lead to better concentrate grades, higher mineral recovery and new polymers to achieve improved water recovery.