Abstract

Geometallurgy has developed since the 1970s, primarily on metallic ore operations. In parallel, industrial mineral operations have been optimized through detailed deposit knowledge and market development, without making specific reference to geometallurgical concepts. The Norwegian mining industry is dominated by industrial mineral and construction material operations, and, in this paper, key differences between the industrial mineral and the metallic ore sectors are investigated, along with their influence on the development and the use of economic block models and optimization methodologies. Further, the key levers and factors (mining method selection, processing route, scale, sequence, and cutoff policy) for value creation in industrial mineral operations are discussed, along with how and to what extent geometallurgy has been used. It is concluded that the five key levers cannot be used in industrial minerals operations as effectively as they are used in metallic ore operations. In industrial minerals, in situ strength variations are an important parameter in estimating key performance indicators such as recovery and product quality. When modeling the spatial variation in rock strength potential, additivity issues must be resolved by investigating the process the raw material is exposed to. The Norwegian industrial mineral sector has been using elements of geometallurgy but is facing unresolved issues related to strength variations and the use of measurement while drilling data.

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