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Geometallurgist Job Description and Skillset (13 replies and 1 comment)

Alan Carter
11 months ago
Alan Carter 11 months ago

We are going to establish a geometallurgist position like but we do not have a profile (job description) about this position, anybody can help me?

Tony Verdeschi
11 months ago
Tony Verdeschi 11 months ago

For geometallurgist are you thinking for a professional responsible of the prediction of metallurgical variables for a mining plan, each one based in a 3D modelling and determinated or controled by geological characteristics? In my experience, the suggestion is to prepare a geologist with experience in mine geology. This geologist will work close together with process or metallurgical engineer and for best each other understanding , the geologist would be prepare in metallurgical issues.

Some Universities offer very complete diploma programme witch could help you to prepare this professional.

10 months ago

Geo-metallurgist = Geometallurgist = Geo Metallurgist

Helena Russell
11 months ago
Helena Russell 11 months ago

We do not have such a position but to me the basic roles and responsibilities for almost any situation would be 

  1. develop and manage 3D geological models of metallurgical performance, 
  2. develop and supervise data collection methodologies to feed into those models, 
  3. provide prediction of metallurgical throughput/recovery etc to the planning process at all time scales, 
  4. develop and supervise monitoring processes to evaluate the accuracy of the models, 
  5. report on the reconciliation of the models at all timescales. 

Of course this would need to be modified for your commodity and situation. I agree with Sergio, a geologist with good knowledge of the plant processes and prepared to work with the metallurgical team would be an ideal candidate, primarily for the 3D modelling and interpretation experience.

Alan Carter
11 months ago
Alan Carter 11 months ago

That is right, actually we are creating this position in the Metallurgical department and the idea was to get a job description about it, in this case is for a geologist a Metallurgist as a team.

Victor Bergman
11 months ago
Victor Bergman 11 months ago

I do like the idea of a staff position as a Geometallurgist. I was not sure such a thing existed as staff positions. I am currently looking to move into that field (I’m not seeking a job!). I have been working as a Production / Project Geologist for the past five years, and I am now about to go back to University to study Minerals Engineering. I always believe such a role would need a good working knowledge of production / resource and metallurgical variables. I am currently for Ideas for a project thesis for my Masters Degree and would like it to be related to Geometallurgy. So if you have any ideas, then I will be happy to hear them.

John Koenig
11 months ago
John Koenig 11 months ago

You should check out SGS to learn about geometallurgy. They have a dedicated group split into 3 departments, geology, flotation and comminution.

11 months ago
JohnnyD 11 months ago

Good to hear there are others that started on the dark side then saw the light LOL I would be interested to in hearing your experiences within the field, especially the role of geology in metallurgical optimization work. My knowledge of Minerals Processing is very basic at the moment (hence the MSc in September), but I am very interested to see if variations in alteration assemblages are used as part of the process? I have always tried to quantify how sensitive the Geomet investigation process needs to be (i.e 'how deep into the rabbit hole' one must go) to fully optimize the entire recovery process and create a realistic mine plan. I would also assume that the most sensitive of these processes would be flotation? Any information would be most welcome.

David Kano
11 months ago
David Kano 11 months ago

A comment about whom to select for a role and what to consider: I have found that there are many variants of Geometallurgy. I have personally experienced that not having straightforward metallurgical qualifications doesn't hinder you in this role, provided you've spent time strongly related to Metallurgy in the past and know a fair amount of detail about processing, this makes you very flexible. Plant experience or time on a mine site is highly desirable. Mineralogy, often a forgotten discipline, is essential to geometallurgy for ore characterization. Understand the latest techniques for the characterisation of mineralogy and supporting analytical techniques. Knowing something of statistics is ideal and required on a higher level. It is also advantageous to have used ACQUIRE or similar and also understand geological modelling packages. A final thing to consider, is to hire someone who isn't afraid to use ALL departments to gain relevant information required for 'modelling' i.e. exploration, production, mine planning and scheduling and of course process engineering. Geomet can spiral and get highly detailed like Matthew's comments above about the rabbit hole, though budgets normally dictate the depth of the rabbit hole! Think small, scale it up. Take a look at the JK site, not just SGS, go to the AUSIMM Geomet conference this September where it will be a chance for major companies to showcase their in-depth geomet programs, such as BHPs Olympic Dam; meet other geomet consultants. Hope my comments are of some use.

Maya Rothman
11 months ago
Maya Rothman 11 months ago

Do a Google search on geomet / role description & you'll get some good hits fro major companies on what they are looking for around this particular area. In doind this I found a very interesting range of views of the role - what it addresses, fundamentals required, etc.

My own comment is that you should focus on starting a geomet. group rather than a geomet. position.

Others can comment, but I think geomet. is too broad for it to be a position; and the very concept of a geomet. position implies a superman role.

A geomet group focus would be improving synergies between geologists, metallurgists, geostatisticians and mine planners. I also suggest a geomet. group would need to include: software specialists (particularly data transfer and software utilisation) and mathematicians (particularly operations research).

As pointed out there are various groups involved in geomet. consulting; and it certainly is an expanding area.

Bob Mathias
11 months ago
Bob Mathias 11 months ago

Here are my thoughts on the description and creation of a geometallurgist post in an organization. This is based on 10 years of experience as a geometallurgist in a Metallurgical Development group, a part of the Technical Department, so linked but not part of the Metallurgy Department. This is my point of view of the role, depending on an organization commitment to geometallurgy this obviously would be modified, will it be an individual or a group?

I see the position as:

  • geological related risk
  • the scale of the risk on metallurgical performance/mining performance
  • in the mitigation of that risk through mine planning, plant control philosophy or metallurgical design.
  • in the creation of a geometallurgical model

The role is largely a service role, but is also proactive in the identification of geometallurgical risk.

Buy-in is essential for a geometallurgist, so the position itself must be created with consultation with all departments: metallurgy, plant operations, exploration/mine geology, mine planning and the geotechnical departments.

Who does the geometallurgist report to?

One option is to view the geometallurgist as the person required to know what we will need to know before we know we need to know it. If you have a Technical Department that should be your priority for the position. The creation of a geometallurgical post outside of the existing structure is another option. I prefer it to be a service position to geology and metallurgy, rather than being controlled by either or in competition to either.

Type of person: The geometallurgist needs to be someone who does not require regular short-term success. A geometallurgist position is unlike many other positions in a mining operation, for example a metallurgical position, that will often see a daily measure of success, or a geologist who sees regular a tangible results through drilling and modelling. The geometallurgist’s initial successes are more ephemeral.

Geometallurgists are not born, they are created: Hire a geologist, preferentially someone with mineralogical expertise and data modelling/handling strength. The geometallurgist should spend at least one year as a metallurgist (well, at least start with that plan, and modify it as required), but with the added responsibility of adding geological/mineralogical understanding to the metallurgical processes. This phase is required to educate the future geometallurgist in metallurgy and create the links the geometallurgist will require within the metallurgical fraternity. The geologist needs to do hands-on metallurgy to gain the respect of the metallurgist. If you have a met-equipment/plant replacement or a new plant design/commissioning project(s) then the geometallurgist should be involved in these projects. During this period the geometallurgist must also spend time with the geology/mine planning to create those links. How this works depends on your operation. Eventually the geometallurgist will need to prepare monthly or quarterly short-term/long-term reports/presentations to the metallurgists, geologists and the mine operations; the links created during the initial period will be invaluable in assuring the geometallurgical process has a chance of success. A geometallurgist is as much a liaison officer as a geologist and a metallurgist, therefore the links must be continually reinforced.

The geometallurgist also needs to possess intimate understanding of the laboratory services, internal and external. Though the geometallurgist will not be the expert in geology or metallurgy in an operation they must be seen to have a unique knowledge, they need to understand how the geology effects the metallurgy, therefore the post contains research elements (either in-house or outsourced). The geometallurgist must have the answers before the questions are asked, this requires commitment from management and the geometallurgist.

The geometallurgist must be highly preficient with the handling and modelling of data, and have a good knowledge of geostatistics and metallurgical statistics.

Therefore, unless you can find a geometallurgist you will need to commit to creating one.

Commitment: The geometallurgist requires a budget or access to a budget to undertake mineralogical/metallurgical work which brings understanding but not necessarily with apparent immediate benefit. I feel the geometallurgist must have an intimate mineralogical knowledge of the orebody, beyond that of the geologists. The geometallurgist must perform the roles duties, but must also accumulate knowledge where the geometallurgist sees potential issues, this require capital commitment. This also means freedom to act, though this may only become a reality after a year or two. One of the important tasks of the geometallurgist is the mitigation of risk related to geology/mineralogy. Therefore, they require resources to assess newly identified areas of risk, often this may require the improvement to existing systems or the implementation of new systems to improve geological and metallurgical data. The present geological systems may not be capable of identifying the metallurgical issues of the future, and therefore the geometallurgist may need to design/test/implement new or improved systems.

A geometallurgist requires resources to gain understanding in the “good” as well as the “bad”. Often the identification of geometallurgical risk is made through in-depth knowledge of the metallurgical well performing portions of an ore deposit.

Other responsibilities of the geometallurgist: If your organization supports Research organizations or Universities in geological or metallurgical research in then your geometallurgist should be involved or in control of the liaison with these institutes.

Bringing it all together (highly dependent on your requirements). The geometallurgist task is:

  • metallurgical risk in the short to long-term in the existing operation
  • risk in expansions and assist exploration in assessing exploration targets
  • the geometallurgical component in the geological model, thereby improving planning and metallurgical performance.
  • systems to achieve the above aims (for example: improved core logging, especially with regards to consistency).
  • between groups
  • management with what they need to know as they need to know it.

The geometallurgist must learn to communicate with metallurgists, there is no excuse to hide within geological jargon, the geometallurgist must ensure the metallurgist understand the issues at hand.

Tony Verdeschi
11 months ago
Tony Verdeschi 11 months ago

"Geometallurgy is the science dedicated to linking geological and metallurgical information sets pertaining to the one orebody or mineral resource. To establish geometallurgical linkages it is necessary to identify geometallurgical ore types in which geology can be shown to consistently drive metallurgical response. A useful geometallurgical analysis of an orebody requires that metallurgical testing be done on a body of individual samples sourced from throughout the orebody and containing multiple representatives of each of the significant geological ore types. The ultimate aim of a geometallurgical test program should be to populate block models with meaningful metallurgical information that can drive subsequent predictions of plant throughput and metallurgy.

A geological ore type is one that conforms to a particular geological definition (it may be meaningless metallurgically)
A metallurgical ore type is one that conforms to a particular process response definition (it may have no correlation with established geological ore types)
A geometallurgical ore type is one where the identification of a particular geological feature (lithology, alteration, RQD, etc) provides useful information about process response."

I strongly believe that the aim of geometallurgy is the "metallurgy" part and as such I am also strongly of the opinion that the right person has a much stronger grounding in process than geology. However, the person must also be able to talk geological language and deal with geological data.

At the end of the day, if a geometallurgical ore type, or a geometallurgially based prediction of a property like plant throughput, does not inform the process engineer about effects in the plant then geometallurgy has failed as an exercise.

Alan Carter
11 months ago
Alan Carter 11 months ago

Great discussion on geometallurgy. Around actual practice, does anyone have comments on people to talk to / operations to visit that would provide examples of best practices around geometallurgy?

Tony Verdeschi
11 months ago
Tony Verdeschi 11 months ago

Batu Hijau in Indonesia have done a lot in this area and have a number of papers to attest to it. Freeport Indonesia also have an effective geomet program. I know of other sites that I have heard have ineffective geomet programs so I wont mention them. I was involved in the early geomet days at both these sites and they have moved from a situation where actual plant feed properties had no relationship to the predicted "geological ore type" based properties. They are both now in a situation where they now get good and useful process information from their "geometallugial ore type" based mine planning systems.

11 months ago
JohnnyD 11 months ago

Thanks. Any particular better references that you would mention for PTFI or Batu Hijau? I have the following papers for specific mines, including those. 

As well, the papers out of SGS have been good for general materials around geomet.

El Teniente

Oyarzun, M. and Arevalo, A., Relationship between rock and grindability, El Teniente Mine, geomin 2011.

Ibarra, F. and Ramirez, F., Work index estimation by ordinary kriging in Chuquicamata mine, geomin 2011.

Ramirez, F. and Pinones, S., Metallurgical parameters determination from drilling samples in mesh Ty # 6, geomin 2011.

Barrientos, C., Jeraldo, C., Barraza, S., and Escobar, V., Ensemble multiple neural networks model for the prediction of copper recovery at Chuquicamata’s concentrator, geomin 2011.

Rio Blanco / Andina
Cruz, J., Cuadra, P., and Ferraz, G., Recoverable copper model in Division Andina, geomin 2011.

Cruz, J., Cuadra, P., and Dold, B., Acid rock drainage geometallurgical units, Río Blanco ore deposit, geomin 2011.

Rio Blanco / Los Bronces
Spichiger, S., Zamora, C., Contreras, A., Rocha, M., and Pichott, S., Forecast of ore mineralogy in the ore feed to the flotation plant of Anglo American’s Los Bronces Division, geomin 2011.

Preece, R.K., Use of point samples to estimate the spatial distribution of hardness in the Escondida porphyry copper deposit, SAG 2006, Vancouver, 2006, Vol. IV, 391-410.

Zuluaga, R. and Segovia, G., Stockpiles modelling; an instrument to the planning and improvement of ore mixture fed to plant, geomin 2011.

Grasberg / PTFI
Amelunxen, R.L. and McCord, T., Expanded modal analysis to predict flotation performance at P.T. Freeport Indonesia, SME Ann. Meet., Denver, 1995, paper 95-157.

Bearman, T., Partanen, A., and Tuppurainen, D., Integrated throughput modelling of mine and process aspects of the PT Freeport Indonesia Operation, Rio Tinto Comminution Workshop, 2004, 63-68.

Rosario / Collahuasi
Alruiz, O.M., Morrell, S., Suazo, C.J., and Naranjo, A., A novel approach to the geometallurgical modelling of the Collahuasi grinding circuit, Minerals Eng., vol. 22, 2009, 1060-1067.

Alruiz, O., Camacho, J., Suazo, C., Rojasa, O., and Hofmann, A., A treatment capacity model. The approach developed by Compania Minera Dona Ines de Collahuasi SCM, Procemin 2008, Santiago, 2008, 277-299.

Mortimer, S. and Aedo, L., The optimisation of mine and mineral processing through multiple scenario cooper mineralogy domain modelling at Minera Collahuasi’s Rosario deposit, geomin 2011.

Suazo, C.J., Kracht, W., and Alruiz, O.M., Geometallurgical modelling of the flotation rate constant, Rheology in Mineral Processing. The 8th UBC-McGill-Univ. of Alberta Symp., Proc. 49th Ann. COM, CIM, 2010, 319-329.

Suazo, C.J., Kracht, W., and Alruiz, O.M., Geometallurgical modelling of the Collahuasi flotation circuit, Minerals Eng., vol. 23, 2010, 137-142.

Mortimer, S. and Aedo, L., The optimisation of mine and mineral processing through multiple scenario copper mineralogy domain modelling at Minera Collahuasi’s Rosario deposit, geomin 2011.