On-site mining processes mostly involve:
Modification of the flow properties (for example viscosity reduction or increase), often necessary to expedite specific individual unit processes.
It is important to monitor the efficiency of these processes, because small differences in the extremely large throughputs in question can have a significant impact on the triple bottom line (people, planet and profit) for most mining concerns. These efficiencies can be effectively monitored by measuring rheological (flow) properties of the different materials.
Important rheological properties can include:
which gives a measure of the solids loading of concentrated suspensions, pastes and other multi-phase mixtures. This measurement tells us the minimum force required to initiate movement in a material, and indicate for example the pumpability of the material or enable prediction of beach-slope and the possibility of slip or failure of tailings dams.
the viscosity is a measure of the resistance of a material to flow. It is a critical input for assessing the pumpability of a material, as well as the probable efficiency of mixing or separation processes.
the viscoelasticity of a material can gently (without damaging the structure) measure the internal structure of a material. In this way the effectiveness of different processes (or process additives) can be observed – e.g. localised testing of the process of flocculation.
Using these well accepted measurement techniques can help the mining industry effectively control their processes and maximise returns.