From Rock to Ore Processing Plant

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From Rock to Ore Processing Plant

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From Rock to Ore Processing Plant

Once the miners had drilled, blasted, tunnelled, sweated, toiled and collected the muck (a mixture of valuable ore minerals and waste rock), it was sent to the Mill. Sending it to the Mill allowed the valuable ore minerals to be separated from the waste rock (called gangue) so that only the valuable ore was sent to the smelter. Sending only ore to the smelter was what made the mine managers happy. Therefore, the Mill was a crucial step in the whole mining process.

In the early years, only chalcopyrite, gold and silver were extracted. Mill operators calculated the amount of iron, sulphur and zinc present, but as there was no market for them at that time, pyrite and sphalerite were not extracted.

From Rock to Ore Processing Plant

The Mill began extracting pyrite from 1924 though it was not always sold. It was either stockpiled at Britannia, or sold when it could be, for the production of sulphuric acid, pig iron and fertilizers. When stockpiled, this was because there was no market for it, and/or because there was no shipping space. Zinc production came later by 1935, again, when the market arose.

In the early years, only chalcopyrite, gold and silver were extracted. Mill operators calculated the amount of iron, sulphur and zinc present, but as there was no market for them at that time, pyrite and sphalerite were not extracted. The Mill began extracting pyrite from 1924 though it was not always sold. It was either stockpiled at Britannia, or sold when it could be, for the production of sulphuric acid, pig iron and fertilizers. When stockpiled, this was because there was no market for it, and/or because there was no shipping space. Zinc production came later by 1935, again, when the market arose.

In the early years, only chalcopyrite, gold and silver were extracted. Mill operators calculated the amount of iron, sulphur and zinc present, but as there was no market for them at that time, pyrite and sphalerite were not extracted. The Mill began extracting pyrite from 1924 though it was not always sold. It was either stockpiled at Britannia, or sold when it could be, for the production of sulphuric acid, pig iron and fertilizers. When stockpiled, this was because there was no market for it, and/or because there was no shipping space. Zinc production came later by 1935, again, when the market arose.

Crushing Stage

For its size, the Britannia Mine’s community had Between the ore bins at the top of the Mill and the first of the crushers, the ore was fed over a Grizzly, a sorting device (series of metal bars spaced out and set on a slope) which lets small pieces fall through. The small pieces, called ‘undersize’ bypass the first crushing stage and go to the next (Roll) crushing. The bigger pieces go to the Cone or Gyratory Crushers.

Another important step before the first crushing was washing to remove the Primary Slimes (clays and mineral salts) that contaminated the ore and would otherwise clog up the system. During the 1930s the ore was even washed twice before it reached the first crusher.

In the 1920s, the first crushing in the Mill (technically secondary crushing as primary crushing was done underground) was done with Gyratory Crushers. This reduced the ore to ¾ inch sized pieces. Similar to Cone Crushers, these are large capacity crushers that can handle the large pieces of muck fed into them. By 1931, they had replaced the Gyratory Crushers with Cone Crushers.

Both Gyratory and Cone crushers work (below images respectively) on the principle of a gyrating (not rotating) inner cone, which crushes the ore against a static outer wall.

You can contact us if you would like to learn more about From Rock to Ore Processing Plant, our engineers will provide you with quality service.

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