Predictions of flow patterns in a 600-mm scale model SAG mill made using four classes of discrete element method (DEM) models are compared to experimental photographs. The accuracy of the various models is assessed using quantitative data on shoulder, toe and vortex center positions taken from ensembles of both experimental and simulation results. These detailed comparisons reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the various models for simulating mills and allow the effect of different modelling assumptions to be quantitatively evaluated. In particular, very close agreement is demonstrated between the full 3D model (including the end wall effects) and the experiments. It is also demonstrated that the traditional two-dimensional circular particle DEM model under-predicts the shoulder, toe and vortex center positions and the power draw by around 10 degrees. The effect of particle shape and the dimensionality of the model are also assessed, with particle shape predominantly affecting the shoulder position while the dimensionality of the model affects mainly the toe position. Crown Copyright (C) 2003 Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.