The heavy cost of mining and minerals manufacturing

Cement-pipesThe importance of minerals as a production resource applies to many facets of our daily lives. For instance, the quality of concrete determines the smoothness of a road surface and the sturdiness of a building. However, with the ever-growing demands for quality cement, many have spurred manufacturing processes leading to hefty costs. Such costs incurred comes from wastage when having to reproduce cement because it does not meet the quality standard.

Based on a mechanical and civil engineering study, 6-15% of construction costs are wasted because of the rework of defective components. Moreover, 12% of these defects are due to material and system failures (Waje & Patil, 2017). Imagine the significant savings if manufacturing companies paid attention to their quality control.

Implications of particle’s size

Hence, to find ways in saving production cost, there is a need for particle size analysis of minerals. Before any major processes can occur, there is a basic need to control a number of chemical reactions, which boils down to the size of a particle. The correct size lets particles come together for cement setting which requires the mixing of limestone and clinker. Furthermore, the grinding efficiency of limestone and the burning efficiency of clinker minerals are reliant on the particle’s size. This is because bigger particles take greater effort to grind and burn.

However, particles of a different size may lead to the poor setting of cement that leads to cracks and the inability to support heavier structures. Companies will then face difficulties in fetching a higher price for a lower grade of cement.

A closer look on sieving

old-sieve-for-gold-mining-000013901771_300x270Currently, there are traditional methods of analyzing particle size, such as sieving. Sieving is done by soaking and slurrying a sample of minerals in water and then washing it through subsequent finer interlocking screens. The resulting powder forms are then analyzed for consistency.

Sieving is regularly adopted because the analytical technique is inexpensive due to its uncomplicated design, consistent output and easy collection of sieves. However, if your business is interested in high quality and consistent products, then accurate measurements and production costs matter to you.  Sieving is based on estimations as each sieve is a size, and particles that fall through the sieve may be of that regulated size or smaller. Sieving uses offline analysis hence you will not be able to make real-time adjustments to your process. This makes processes time-consuming and succumbs to human error due to changes in operating personnel and sample stability.

Read this whitepaper explaining the 5 reasons to replace sieve analysis with laser diffraction

Considerations on particle size analysis

In choosing the right technique for your production’s particle size analysis, do consider:

  • Accurate and repeatable measurements
  • Preferably an automatable analytical process
  • More flexibility to measure a range of particle sizes (between 10 nanometres to 3.5 mm)
  • Shorter time frame of analysis (Measurement time less than 10 seconds)
  • Online and inline analysis with real-time measurement

With the ever-growing demands on quality and consistency of particle size, attention has turned to laser diffraction which possesses these abovementioned requirements. The technique utilizes diffraction patterns of a laser beam which passes through particles ranging from nanometers to millimeters in size to rapidly measure its geometrical dimensions and provide richly substantial data.

Towards greater savings

The reason laser diffraction beats sieving is its technological progress. Higher precision in measurement, richer analytical content in data and superior efficiency in process. These are your key benefits that will be fruitful for your production and save you a lot of money.

To gain a better understanding of laser diffraction systems, do check out the Insitec range that prides itself in greater particle monitoring and being highly automatable. Or the Mastersizer range that adds convenience to laser diffractometers by simply plug and play!


V.V, Waje & V. Patil(2017). Cost of poor Quality in Construction. Journal of Mechanical and Civil Engineering.

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