hese included the ISA and rising operational costs in the 1970s regarded as the preferred copper refining PROCESS™ copper refining and 1980s. By the 1990s, Mount Isa Mines method, with more than 100 licensees Ttechnology, the ISASMELT™ had become a world leader in innovative using the technology around the world smelting technology, the IsaMill™ mining techniques and state-of-the-art with an installed capacity of more than fine grinding technology, and the processing technologies. 12 megatonnes of high quality copper commercialisation of the Jameson Cell One of our first major breakthrough production. The ISA PROCESS™ flotation technology. innovations came in 1978 when Copper revolutionized copper refining by The focus on paving the way in industrial Refineries Limited, then a subsidiary replacing copper cathode-starter-sheets innovation was a result of the difficult of Mount Isa Mines, developed the ISA with stainless steel sheets and making nature of the Mount Isa ore bodies and PROCESS™ copper refining technology. what was a labour-intensive process in response to declining metal prices Today this technology is globally mechanised and more energy efficient.
MINE TO MARKET 1 Pioneering Technology (continued)
FAR LEFT TOP: Dr Roger Player, Process Development Manager and Jim Fewings, Research and Development Manager review plans for the Copper ISASMELT™ in 1989 FAR LEFT BOTTOM: Construction of the Copper ISASMELT™, 1992 LEF T: The new ISASMELT™ infrastructure, visible to the right of the iconic copper stack, 1993 RIGHT: Copper ISASMELT™, circa 2010 FAR RIGHT TOP: Jameson Cells pictured adjacent to flotation columns at the Zinc-Lead Concentrator, 1986 FAR RIGHT BOTTOM: Prominent Hill mine in South Australia used the IsaMill™ and Jameson Cell technologies to produce their copper-gold concentrate
At around the same time, Mount Isa concentrate, lead concentrate and scrap Mines together with the Australian feeds. Together these plants smelt nearly Government’s Commonwealth Scientific ... flexible and efficient 12 million tonnes of material every year. and Industrial Research Organisation ISASMELT™ technology In 1985, Mount Isa Mines enlisted (CSIRO) began developing the energy- Professor Graeme Jameson from the efficient ISASMELT™ smelting has been adopted by University of Newcastle to improve the technology. After laboratory testing of operations all over the performance of the flotation columns a potential lead smelting process at the used in the recovery process of the Zinc- CSIRO’s Melbourne facility, Mount Isa world ... Lead Concentrator. Professor Jameson Mines moved to a 120 kilogram per hour came up with the idea of intensely test rig in our Lead Smelter in 1980, then mixing air and concentrate slurry in a to a five tonne per hour pilot plant in 1983. initially constrained by interactions with specially designed pipe, now known This was followed by the development the remaining reverberatory furnace, as the ‘downcomer’, inserted into the of a copper smelting process and the resolved in 1997 with the closure of the flotation column. This resulted in a finer construction of a 15 tonne per hour fluidized bed roaster and the remaining bubble size−important for recovery of copper ISASMELT™ demonstration reverberatory furnace and the addition the fine minerals present in Mount Isa’s plant in the Copper Smelter in 1987. of a fourth Peirce-Smith converter and ore−a much more robust operation, and a Our plant operators’ involvement a second oxygen plant. As a result, the smaller equipment size than traditional during the development was one of the ISASMELT™ furnace throughput was flotation columns. This was the birth of key contributors to the success of the boosted to more than 160 tonnes per hour the ‘Jameson Cell’. ISASMELT™ technology, as it ensured of concentrate. Professor Jameson patented the cell in the technology was practical and robust, 1986 and a two tonne per hour pilot cell and therefore widely adopted by other Since then, the simple, flexible and was tested in Mount Isa in 1986. In 1988, operations. efficient ISASMELT™ technology has been adopted by operations all over Mount Isa Mines decided to increase In 1992, Mount Isa Mines commissioned the world. Currently, there are 15 the capacity of its Heavy Medium Plant an ISASMELT™ furnace to replace one of ISASMELT™ plants operating in 10 slimes flotation circuit to improve lead two reverberatory furnaces in the Copper different countries, with many more recovery. Following investigations of Smelter and treat 104 tonnes per hour of licensed and under design. These various alternatives, two full-scale concentrate, producing 180,000 tonnes smelters process a variety of minerals Jameson Cells were installed in the Zinc- per year of copper. Throughput was and materials including copper Lead Concentrator in 1989.
2 MINE TO MARKET In April 1989, Mount Isa Mines Almost 20 years on, there are now acquired the international rights to the more than 120 mills installed in metallurgical applications of the Jameson Almost 20 years later, concentrators around the world, in zinc Cell and began marketing the technology there are now more than and lead applications as well as precious while developing it further. By 2013, metals, iron ore, PGMs, industrial and there were more than 320 Jameson Cells 120 mills installed in copper and molybdenum applications. operating globally in coal and base and concentrators around Furthermore the technology has seen precious metal flotation circuits, as well considerable advancement, moving from as industrial minerals, oil sands and the world ... ultra fine applications to courser regrind leach-solvent extraction-electrowinning, applications. or SX-EW process. Today Glencore’s technology subsidiary The next improvement target was to being more efficient, IsaMill™ uses XT continues to market and support grinding, a process that was long inert grinding medium (like ceramic the ISA PROCESS™ (now known as overdue for efficiency improvements. balls, smelter slag or silica sand) that IsaKIDD™), ISASMELT™, IsaMill™ This became critical from the mid-1980s provide clean mineral surfaces ideal for and the Jameson Cell worldwide in as metal recoveries from the Zinc- the subsequent flotation process, further addition to developing and marketing Lead Concentrator dropped due to the enhancing mineral recovery. other leading products such as the increasingly fine grain size of the ore. A Albion Process™, HyperSparge™ and method for grinding ore more finely was After testing prototypes at various ZipaTank™ for the global mineral needed to separate the valuable lead and scales, the first full-scale IsaMill™ was processing and metals smelting and installed in the Mount Isa Zinc-Lead zinc mineral particles from each other refining industries. and from waste. Concentrator in 1994, followed by others in Mount Isa and at McArthur River After a worldwide search for an Mine in the Northern Territory in 1995. appropriate technology, Mount Isa Once again, developing the technology Mines entered a joint development from concept through prototypes to program with the German company commercial scale was done within a Netzsch-Feinmahltechnik GmbH. This working plant, with critical input from partnership led to the development of a operators and maintenance personnel. highly energy-efficient horizontal-stirred Mount Isa Mines began licensing the mill known as the IsaMill™. In addition technology in 1999.
MINE TO MARKET 3