Mineral processing operations around the world are set to benefit from research aimed at delivering a digital step-change in grinding mill design and performance, following the announcement of an Australian Government research grant worth more than half a million dollars.
The AUD$545,000 grant, awarded to Bradken as part of a research collective, will focus on comminution – breaking solid material down into smaller particles for further processing – and developing super-accurate simulations of the grinding mill process.
Bradken Global Research and Development Manager, Reece Attwood, said the potentially game-changing project would give global mining and resources operators the ability to precisely target grinding efficiency, mill liner service life, power consumption and carbon emissions, to optimise their operations.
“The constant evolution of the global raw material market and the changing needs of our customers’ demands that Bradken innovates so we can deliver solutions that offer improved productivity, but on a whole new level” Mr Attwood said.
“This exciting project aims to accelerate improvements in mill design through development of an enhanced digital twin while, combining a number of technologies such as IoT instrumentation, enhanced simulation techniques and deep learning.
The project will be hosted by the University of Newcastle through their flagship research institute, the Newcastle Institute for Energy and resources (NIER) in collaboration with the University of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), as well as international involvement from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
Mr Attwood said Bradken and the University of Newcastle had a long history of partnerships.
“Working with organisations like the University of Newcastle brings a bigger mix of ideas from a wider range of backgrounds all focused on the same significant challenge. This collaboration will help generate the innovation our industry and our customers need to take the next step forward.
Chief Investigator on the project, Professor Craig Wheeler from the University of Newcastle said the cross-disciplinary team will merge expertise from solids processing and artificial intelligence to develop new computational algorithms.
“Our work will enhance the design and maintenance of key industrial equipment, predict wear and optimise the design of key components to improve the life of machinery to process minerals,” Professor Wheeler said.
Leading the project for Bradken is Senior Research Scientist – Process Control Dr Wei Chen.
With extensive experience in both industry research and applied numerical modelling, Dr Chen said he was looking forward to working closely with experts from partner organisations on the technical development of the project.
“Partnering with a group of leading research experts from Australia and abroad, gives us access to world class thinking in IoT, deep learning and numerical modelling,” Dr Chen said.
“Together we’ll go through a rigorous experimental and numerical research program that we expect will deliver considerable benefits for our customers around the world.”
“Involving our customers in the research process through site trials will keep us together at the forefront of mineral processing technology.”
Work on the project is planned to get underway in March.