Obtaining experimental evidence to support a proposed process flowsheet usually begins at the laboratory bench. For mineral projects (and many other kinds), experimentation begins with trying to concentrate the desired mineral(s) by physical methods. The key to determining which methods to use (magnetic, gravity, flotation, etc.) is a complete understanding of the mineralogy of the feed material. Next, the laboratory work typically focuses on the key process reactor, such as a furnace, a roaster, a leach tank, or an autoclave. When the main reaction parameters (time, temperature, particle size, oxidation–reduction potential, etc.) are reasonably understood, the bench work moves to separation and recycle streams, and then to water and effluent treatment systems. Throughout the laboratory phase, high-quality, real-time chemical and mineralogical analyses are essential.
High-quality laboratory work is critical to using time and money efficiently in the subsequent piloting and demonstration phases of process development. Hazen maintains several laboratories and analytical and mineralogical support facilities at its 18-building site in Golden, Colorado. These laboratories provide commercial laboratory services as well as supporting Hazen’s internal research and development projects. In January of 2015, Hazen acquired the 78 year old Huffman Laboratories, Inc., a world-class analytical research laboratory.