How do dropped charges form?
Horizontal grinding mills are typically used to break and grind rocks that contain minerals. To help the grinding process, water and steel balls are added to the process which then form the charge in the mill. Ball mill charge contains a significant amount of steel balls and can become extremely heavy. For example, a large 24 foot (7.3 m) diameter ball mill charge typically weighs around 2 million lbs (907 tons). Even though Semi Autogenous Grinding (SAG) and Autogenous Grinding (AG) mill charges contains less balls and no steel balls respectively, their large mill volumes can become quite heavy as well. In all three cases (Ball, SAG or AG mill), when the equipment is stopped, the material inside can dry up over time to form a solidified charge. When the mill is restarted, the solidified charge needs to break and tumble, otherwise a problematic dropped charge can form.