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A different way to crush rock could make mining more energy efficient

Updated: June 03, 2020 05:48 PM

Mining is an industry that requires a lot of energy. After all, they have to take raw ore and turn it into pellets. And energy costs are high for the industry.

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A different way to crush the rock is now being explored, thanks to help from UMD's NRRI. It's called High Pressure Grinding Rolls, and there is a small scale machine in Coleraine at the minerals lab. And it's considered more energy efficient than some of the traditional ball and rod mills that crush the ore now.

"If you pass the rocks through the gap of the rolls, it exerts compressive force, and the particles break," shared Shashi Rao, lead researcher on HPGR-related projects at NRRI.

They provide the data so companies can scale up a machine to industrial size that would work for them.

Weir Minerals has one in a current taconite plant in Minnesota. "It reduces energy in grinding by over 30%, and eliminates some of the every other day waste of rod mills," explained Tim Lundquist, Weir HPGR Manager for North America.

Lundquist said that this technology is being used across the globe already, and it's exciting to see it being explored here. He told us the facility has made pellets from ore crushed by the HPGR, but the pandemic has slowed the project down.

Still, it's exciting. Rao said, "Our clients come over, and they have never seen an HPGR operation before. They get all excited, and leave the facility more optimistic."

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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