Particle size effect on the efficient use of water and energy in mineral concentration processes

Marcela Donoso, Pedro A. Robles, Edelmira D. Gálvez, Luis A. Cisternas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Mining operations are major greenhouse gas producers and energy consumers. In arid and semiarid regions, mining operations are major consumers of water. For example, in the Antofagasta region of Chile, mining consumes 65% of the available water. The mineral industry is seeking ways to reduce the impacts of its mining and mineral processing operations. Members of this industry face several challenges in designing sustainable mineral operations with lower environmental and social impacts while remaining profitable. These challenges must be addressed in the design, operation, and postclosure phases of mining operations. Several of the most important challenges involve the efficient use of water and energy. Increasing the amount of grinding increases energy consumption and affects subsequent water recovery during the dewatering stages. This manuscript examines these and other effects through process simulation of a flotation plant for copper ores. On the basis of the simulation of a copper concentration process, it was determined that the particle size has a significant effect on the process economics (recovery and grade), energy consumption, and water consumption. This effect makes it possible to explore the trade-off between energy, economics, and water recovery. There are opportunities for energy- and water-efficient design and operation. Energy, water, and greenhouse gas emissions need to be accounted for and optimized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17686-17690
Number of pages5
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number49
StatePublished - 11 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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