Klass Van der Wielen

PhD student Klass Van Der Wielen.

Technological development in mineral processing

University of Exeter

The crushing and grinding of rocks to extract metals uses three to five per cent of all electricity generated in the world. Improved energy efficiency in this process would significantly reduce costs and the generation of carbon dioxide emissions.

This project was set up to examine the breakage process using variable equipment parameters, such as the number and frequency of pulses for a variety of materials, and aims to determine the energy required for the grinding of ore samples before and after treatment.

Swiss company SelFrag, who specialise in the development, engineering and marketing of high voltage pulse power technologies, contacted Camborne School of Mines regarding developed technology for this process to explore the possibility of further expansion on the use of this equipment. PhD student Klaas Van Der Wielen was recruited to develop his skills on the project.

Klaas used his background in geology and mining to work extensively with SelFrag, external experts and the University of Exeter to further investigate the technology and its potential uses.

Klass said: “SelFrag had developed the technology but did not have specific information on settings for the fragmentation of materials. I have worked closely with local organisations to investigate this and have gone on to construct a Hopkinson Bar – a tool that tests particle strength.”

Klaas has developed his knowledge of minerals testing machinery - an aspect of mining of extreme interest to the industry – and has become a world expert in its use.

The high financial risks in mining create a reluctance to try new technology. This research enables a clear demonstration to the sector of the benefits of investing in new, more advanced processes.