April 2020
Volume 72    Issue 4

Application of thermal fragmentation in Australian hard-rock, underground, narrow-vein mining

Drake, Bradley; Koroznikova, Larissa; Tuck, Michael; Durkin, Steve


This paper presents the results of an investigation of the application of thermal fragmentation in Australian hard-rock, underground, narrow-vein mining. Two geologically similar samples from an underground, narrow-vein, hard-rock gold mine were collected to obtain a measure of the technology’s ability to recover ore by the creation of large thermal openings to assess the applicability of the thermal method.

   Particle size distribution showed a 31 percent higher generation of fine product — smaller than 2 mm in size — by thermal fragmentation than by selective blasting. The Bond work index for the thermal ore is 12.62 kWh/t, half that of 25.32 kWh/t for the blasted ore. The average grindability obtained for the thermal ore sample was greater than the blasted sample by a factor of 2.44, a higher value indicating a decrease in the energy required to grind. The thermal fragmentation method generates product with higher dissolution of gold in cyanide, by 14 percent for the smaller than 9.5 but larger than 2 mm size fraction samples. Additionally, the thermal fragmentation results in higher production of smaller than 9.5 but larger than 2 mm material by 15 percent compared to selective blasting.
Full-text paper:
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (2020) 37:219–229, https://doi.org/10.1007/s42461-019-00154-z


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