Semi-Autogenous and Autogenous Grinding Mills (SAG Mills) Market: Overview

Semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) and autogenous grinding mills are used for grinding large chunks of materials into smaller pieces which can be later used for processing. Such mills are used in the primary stage of grinding process where pieces of raw materials need to be grounded for further processing or sorting. These mills are typically powered using electricity and depending on the required power have different configurations such as central drive, single pinion, dual pinion and gearless mechanical set-up. AG and SAG mills are extensively used in the mining industry for extracting minerals such as metals, oil shale, limestone, rock salt, coal, gemstones, dimension stones, gravel and clay.

Autogenous grinding (AG) mills are tumbling mills which do not require a dedicated grinding media and use the ore itself for grinding. Ores which are comprised of sufficient competent pieces are amenable to AG mills. For such ores, AG mills perform crushing, fine and coarse grinding steps of size reduction. On the other hand, semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mills use steel balls as an additional grinding media. The use of steel balls enables such mills to grind ores with varying hardness and amount of grinding media. As a result, SAG mills are ideal for treating wide variety of feed materials as well as sticky ores.

Semi-Autogenous and Autogenous Grinding Mills (SAG Mills) Market: Drivers

One of the key factors driving this market is the need for energy efficient solutions as grinding is one of the most energy consuming stages in mining. Also, to widen the scope and to increase the efficiency of grinding process, requirements such as ability to grind abrasive materials, high availability and low operating costs are expected from the mills used for grinding process. Thus, a semi-autogenous and autogenous grinding mill is preferred for grinding in mining industry on account of its extremely high availability rate, high throughput and low energy consumption. However, grinding in such mills becomes a complex process as the feed rate and mineralogical properties of the ore dictate the mill properties. This makes the grinding process difficult to assess and control in autogenous and semi-autogenous mills. Moreover, these mills often require repair and maintenance for wear and tear caused by the churning of heavy residue bearing materials. The emergence of high pressure grinding rollers (HPGR) based circuits as an energy efficient alternative to SAG-based circuits also pose a threat to the conventional SAG market.

Over the years, AG and SAG mills have found several applications in the mining industry. These mills are used as industrial mining equipment to perform tasks such as processing, crushing, separating and locating of precious metals from mined coal. Precious metal industries such as gold, platinum, silver and copper use AG and SAG mills extensively. Other metals such as lead, nickel and zinc also are extracted using AG and SAG mills. Key players in AG and SAG market are KHD Humboldt Wedag International AG, Polysius AG and Koppern Equipment Inc. from Germany, FLSmidth & Co. A/s from Denmark, SGS Group and ABB Ltd. from Switzerland, Metso Oyj and Outotec Oyj from Finland, CITIC Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. and SGI Group from China.

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