The following article describes types of ball mill, affecting factors, ball mill grinding media, and working principle.
The final stages of comminution are performed in tumbling mills using steel balls as the grinding medium and so designated “ball mills.” Since balls have a greater surface area per unit weight than rods, they are better suited for fine finishing. The term ball mill is restricted to those having a length to diameter ratio of 1.5 to 1 and less.
Ball mills in which the length to diameter ratio is between 3 and 5 are designated tube mills. These are sometimes divided into several longitudinal compartments, each having a different charge composition; the charges can be steel balls or rods, or pebbles, and they are often used dry to grind cement clinker, gypsum, and phosphate. Tube mills having only one compartment and a charge of hard, screened ore particles as the grinding medium are known as pebble mills.
They are widely used in the South African gold mines. Since the weight of pebbles per unit volume is 35-55% of that of steel balls, and as the power input is directly proportional to the volume weight of the grinding medium, the power input and capacity of pebble mills are correspondingly lower. Thus in a given grinding circuit, for a certain feed rate, a pebble mill would be much larger than a ball mill, with correspondingly higher operating cost. However, it is claimed that the increment in capital cost can be justified economically by a reduction in operating cost attributed to the lower cost of the grinding medium. This may, however, be partially offset by higher energy cost per tonne of finished product.