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Heap Leaching: Modelling and Forecasting Using CFD Technology
Minerals, Volume: 8, Issue: 1, Start page: 9
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Heap leach operations typically employ some form of modelling and forecasting tools to predict cash flow margins and project viability. However, these vary from simple spreadsheets to phenomenological models, with more complex models not commonly employed as they require the greatest amount of time...
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Heap leach operations typically employ some form of modelling and forecasting tools to predict cash flow margins and project viability. However, these vary from simple spreadsheets to phenomenological models, with more complex models not commonly employed as they require the greatest amount of time and effort. Yet, accurate production modelling and forecasting are essential for managing production and potentially critical for successful operation of a complex heap, time and effort spent in setting up modelling tools initially may increase profitability in the long term. A brief overview of various modelling approaches is presented, but this paper focuses on the capabilities of a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model. Advances in computational capability allow for complex CFD models, coupled with leach kinetic models, to be applied to complex ore bodies. In this paper a comprehensive hydrodynamic CFD model is described and applied to chalcopyrite dissolution under heap operating conditions. The model is parameterized against experimental data and validated against a range of experimental leach tests under different thermal conditions. A three-dimensional ‘virtual’ heap, under fluctuating meteorological conditions, is simulated. Continuous and intermittent irrigation is investigated, showing copper recovery per unit volume of applied leach solution to be slightly increased for pulse irrigation.
CFD; heap leaching; computational modelling; copper sulphide ore
College of Engineering