Understanding Particle Flow Behaviour in Irregular Ore Pass Geometries with Non-Spherical Particles using Non-Smooth Contact Dynamics

  • Phan, Tan (CSIRO)
  • Salmi, Ebrahim (CSIRO)
  • Sellers, Ewan (CSIRO)
  • Lu, Yuanshen (The University of Queensland)
  • Azéma, Emilien (University of Montpellier)

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In the mining industry, a significant amount of ore and waste are often transported after blasting. A simple and cost-effective method for this purpose is to use ore and waste passes to transport and store rock materials through gravity-induced flow. Understanding the complex flow dynamics in ore passes with irregular geometries and particle shapes is crucial for optimising ore pass design and operation. However, past literature has only focused on material flow in ore passes with either spherical or disk particles [1-3] or clumps of spheres or disks [2, 4, 5] through Discrete Element Method (DEM), and this only provides the lower bound of the results. This study integrates qualitative and quantitative analysis techniques using the Non-Smooth Contact Dynamics (NSCD) approach to model non-spherical particles with realistic shapes. The experimental work involves qualitatively analysing particle flow patterns and transport efficiency quantitatively using laboratory-scale apparatus. The DEM simulations verify the experimental results and predict particle behaviour in longer ore passes. The results demonstrated that the polydispersity in particle shape and size significantly impacts flow patterns and transport efficiency in these systems. The Non-Smooth Contact Dynamics approach provides an effective means of modelling non-spherical particles in long ore passes. The findings of this research will interest geotechnical professionals and mining engineers as they provide insights into optimising long ore pass performance based on particle characteristics and operating conditions. This combination of experimental and numerical techniques used in this study provides a better understanding of the flow behaviour in ore passes with the polydispersity in particle shape, size, and irregular geometries. Further research could expand the study to large-scale systems and investigate the impact of other factors on material flow and transport efficiency.