The process of recovering & concentrating important raw materials from the surrounding rock, sand & clay that is accessible to surface mining involves numerous technical challenges bridging a vast spectrum of science & engineering.
Because the minerals of interest are present in very small concentrations, the amount of ore that must be processed commercially is daunting. As a result, seemingly small increases in performance & efficiency can have a dramatic impact on process economics.
The issues that must be dealt with in this industry is wide and include:
- Limitations in transport phenomena, restricting rates associated with many chemical reactions exploited in the mining flowsheet
- Challenging solid/liquid separations, often complicated by complex operating conditions & chemistry
- Challenges associated with the design, operation & characterization of fluidized bed technology that forms the basis for many process units
- Diverse water treatment issues, often involving the application of aerobic & anaerobic biological systems
- Geotechnical challenges associated with mine site reclamation, in which the rejected ore components are reintroduced into the natural setting
- Erosion & material wear associated with the processing of dry and slurried solids