• October 12, 2017

The importance of geometallurgical test work for IM projects

Published on October 12th, 2017

CSA Global congratulates authors Dr. Bill Shaw (Ore Control) and Dr. Andrew Scogings (CSA Global) on their recent paper: “The importance of geometallurgical test work for industrial minerals projects” delivered at this years’ Tenth International Mining Geology Conference held in Hobart, Tasmania, from 20–22 September 2017.

This year’s conference highlighted the continuing evolution of Mining geologists who are now involved in many business-critical steps in the value chain, from resource evaluation and feasibility through mine production management, and geometallurgy to marketing.  The theme of the conference was ‘setting new standards’ and focused on opportunities and benefits of formal work process standards, and also on improving the quality/standard of current approaches to mining geology.

The papers in these proceedings are a quality range of case studies in best practice, advances in grade and geology modelling, geometallurgy and geomechanics, and some forward-looking keynote abstracts, as well as some excellent student/new professional abstracts.


The successful development of industrial minerals projects requires an integrated, holistic understanding of the metallurgical and product performance test work in the context of the geological setting of the deposit and applied to mining, processing and marketing of saleable products. The product specifications provide the essential starting point for geometallurgical studies. A sound understanding of the desired product is needed to design and interpret a program of test work. Examples are provided from recent studies on bentonite and graphite deposits.

For bentonite projects, the naïve testing of only the cation exchange capacity (CEC) as  a measure of purity can lead to unexpected outcomes when the deposit is mined. The CEC attribute may remain the same, while other important properties such pH and swelling index change markedly with depth, due to weathering and oxidation, leading to disappointing production outcomes.

For graphite projects it is not enough to report only total graphitic carbon content (TGC). Knowledge is required of the in situ flake size and textures in addition to purity and flake size distribution of extracted graphite, which may all vary from one domain to another across the deposit. Such geometallurgical attributes of the ore will impact on the ‘basket price’ used to estimate the value of marketable parcels of expected product.

Disclosure of such information must be considered part of fully informing the market. As with all new project developments, consideration of the JORC (2012 and VALMIN (2015) Codes requires disclosure of all material information. This includes the geometallurgical characterization, ie those aspects of mineralogy that impact on resource evaluation, ore reserve definition and project valuation.


Dr Andrew Scogings Principal Consultant, CSA Global

Dr Andrew Scogings
Principal Consultant

Dr Scogings is a geologist with more than 25 years’ experience in industrial minerals exploration, product development and sales management.  Andrew has published several papers on the requirements of the JORC Code 2012, with specific reference to Clause 49. He is a regular contributor to Industrial Minerals Magazine and has written articles about QA/QC, bulk density methods and petrography for industrial minerals exploration, in addition to co-authoring several papers that ranked global graphite exploration projects.  He was recently senior author of two significant reviews: Natural Graphite Report – strategic outlook to 2020 and Drilling grade barite – Supply, Demand & Markets published in 2015 by Industrial Minerals Research (UK).  Andrew is a Registered Professional Geoscientist (RP Geo. Industrial Minerals) with the Australian Institute of Geoscientists.

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AusIMM Minerals Institute


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