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Investigating particle size distribution of blasthole samples in an openpit copper mine and its relationship with grade

Mining Engineering , 2017, Vol. 69, No. 2, pp. 29-33

Ganguli, R.; Purvee, A.; Sarantsatsral, N.; Bat, N.



Blasthole sampling practices were investigated at the Erdenet copper and molybdenum mine in Mongolia to address grade reconciliation issues. The goal of the study was to determine if the particle size distribution (PSD) of blasthole cuttings was accurately reflected in the samples. The study additionally examined if the measured grade was related to the particle size of samples. Using a sector sampler specifically designed to collect samples for the study, six large samples were collected from three blocks following a specialized protocol. Each sample was split into nine size fractions, ranging from larger than 12 mm to smaller than 63 μm. Copper and molybdenum grades were determined for each of the size fractions. For comparison, nine samples were collected from the same blocks following the standard mine sampling protocol. These samples were also split into the same nine size fractions. As with the other samples, grades were determined for each of the size fractions. The results showed that the PSD in the samples collected following the standard operating procedure varied significantly from sample to sample. This variation was much lower for the samples collected following the specialized protocol. Loss of fines was also indicated in the standard mine sampling process. These observations suggest that the standard sampling protocol did not consistently capture the PSD. The copper and molybdenum grades increased as particle size decreased, regardless of the sampling protocol used. This observation underscores the importance of the PSD of a sample being representative of the true PSD. Given the low number of samples in the study, it is not a strong conclusion that the standard sampling protocol captures the PSD inconsistently. However, it could be taken as a caution. On the other hand, the grade versus PSD relationship is more certain, given that it was observed regardless of the sampling method used.