Forging Ahead

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Molycop have been manufacturing grinding balls from its Kansas City operations since 1921.  In January, 2016 the company added another important chapter to its rich history with the first of it’s new generation SAG grinding balls rolling off the production line.

Named the “Molycop NG”, the new product represents a significant improvement in SAG Ball technology and performance.

Steve, can you tell us about your role and history with Molycop?

I have been responsible for grinding media operations at both of our predecessor companies since the early 1990’s, Armco, and GST Steel. In 2002 I was a  founder of American Grinding Systems, the predecessor of today’s Molycop USA. Currently I am the President of Molycop USA, responsible for all aspects of the day- to-day business operations.

Who is Molycop and what are your key products and services?

Molycop provides grinding media products (grinding balls and rods) and technical assistance to hard rock mining, cement, and industrial mineral companies globally. Our products are used in mineral processing applications primarily for the commodities of gold, copper and iron ore. From our Kansas City, Missouri facility, we primarily serve customers in the continental United States, Central America, and South America. We provide absolute security of supply from our centrally located plant in Kansas City and inventory depots in Texas, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona in addition to support from our global network of nine facilities strategically located in major mining regions.

Molycop has announced that it will introduce a new grinding ball product to the market.  What is the new product and why was it developed?

Over the past decade or so, the working environment for SAG balls has become much more demanding.  To increase productivity, customers have been building new operations with larger diameter SAG mills, and many customers are operating their SAG mills more aggressively.  To meet this new performance requirement, a three year R&D project was undertaken by Molycop’s global technical network to increase the toughness and abrasion resistance of the Molycop SAG ball. The result of this work is the development of the Molycop NG SAG ball.

What is different about the Molycop NG product and how does it compare with other products on the market?

The product development process focused on the development of specialised manufacturing processes and the micro-alloy combinations of our feed material in order to produce the New Generation SAG ball.  The Molycop NG SAG ball is manufactured using an innovative, proprietary manufacturing process that has resulted in a tougher SAG Ball, with higher impact and spalling resistance.  We have undertaken considerable investment in our facility to modify our current manufacturing process to accommodate the necessary technology to produce the Molycop NG ball.  Customer trials to date have displayed a significantly lower ball consumption range for medium to high impact milling environments, so we are very excited to be able to bring this product to market in 2016.

Can you elaborate on the changes to your operations that were required to manufacture Molycop NG ball?

The production of the Molycop NG SAG ball begins with special processing of the bar or feed material provided by our steel suppliers, which we use to manufacture the balls.  At the Molycop plants, the balls are then hot forged and processed through new state-of-the-art heat-treat lines that produces the properties that generate the superior toughness of the Molycop NG SAG ball.  In Kansas City, the investment in this new heat- treatment line is the single largest capital investment since the construction of the new plant on this current site in 1995.

Can you tell us about how the product has performed and elaborate on your initial results?

Initial results from several full scale field trials indicate that a reduction in SAG ball consumption may range from 10-13% in lower impact mill environments up to 20% in higher impact mill environments, by virtually eliminating breakage and spalling that drive total ball consumption.

When will the new product be available?

It is available now!  We completed the construction work associated with the new manufacturing line in September 2015 and completed our commissioning trials in January 2016.