Q&A on Geometallurgy

25 June 2019

Leading up to our Iron Ore 2019 conference, we spoke to Theresa Nguyen, presenting author and specialist metallurgist of Resource Geology and Metallurgical Development at Rio Tinto to give us her insights into geometallurgy and why this is a key focus for the iron ore industry.

Theresa Nguyen will be presenting at Iron Ore 2019 on 23 of July, ‘A geometallurgical approach to product predictions at a Channel Iron Deposit in the Pilbara’. A case study demonstrating that a geometallurgical approach resulted in optimised mine plan where value has been added to the business.


What is geometallurgy?

The practice of linking geological knowledge and mineralogy to describe or predict metallurgical responses in a processing plant.


What are the key benefits of applying geometallurgical approach to ore characterisation in the iron ore industry?

  • Improve predictions for product grade and yield as iron ore is variable in grade and nature
  • Assist in optimising mine planning scheduling for the finite resources
  • Provide a better understanding of the causes of plant down time and enable appropriate strategies to be generated to handle problematic material
  • Where there is wet processing involved, it can help optimise product grade and recovery, and provide best estimate inputs to staging of tailings storage facilities


What are the future development areas and challenges in geometallurgy?

  • Effective communication between multi-disciplinary teams for successful transaction of information. Geometallurgy can’t be practised if teams are working in silos. This also relates to closing the loop, ensuring that teams contributing to the geometallurgical chain of information understand the importance and implications their data has on downstream decisions.
  • Consistent and quality data capture across geological and metallurgical domains
  • Applying geometallurgical practices to other deposits would require tailoring the strategy based on ore type, processing plant and capacity, and would involve a different set of stakeholders. Geometallurgy can’t simply be a cut and paste solution to different sites.


What message would you like to provide to the delegates – what do you hope will be the main message they will take away from your presentation?

The case study presented has demonstrated that taking a geometallurgical approach resulted in optimised mine plan where value has been added to the business and was not possible without the input of geologists, metallurgists and mining engineers.  Geometallurgy is a work in progress where collaborative work on the basis of effective and transparent communication between teams can lead to improved solutions.


Join us in Perth for Iron Ore 2019 to network with iron ore producers and consumers from around the world and access an exhibition showcasing the latest technology for exploration.


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