Crushing and grinding are the most energy intensive part of the mineral recovery process. A major part of rock size reduction occurs in tumbling mills. Empirical models for the power draw of tumbling mills do not consider the effect of lifters. Discrete element modelling was used to investigate the effect of lifter condition on the power draw of tumbling mill. Results obtained with PFC3D code show that lifter condition will have a significant influence on the power draw and on the mode of energy consumption in the mill. Relatively high lifters will consume less power than low lifters, under otherwise identical conditions. The fraction of the power that will be consumed as friction will increase as the height of the lifters decreases. This will result in less power being used for high intensity comminution caused by the impacts. The fraction of the power that will be used to overcome frictional resistance is determined by the material's coefficient of friction. Based on the modelled results, it appears that the effective coefficient of friction for in situ mill is close to 0.1. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.