Magnetite Mines and NextOre sign ore sorting exclusivity pact

Magnetite Mines Ltd says it has entered into an exclusivity agreement with ore sorting technology company NextOre to use its leading-edge magnetic resonance ore sorting technology for pre-concentration of magnetite and iron ore projects.

The terms of the agreement include exclusive use for any magnetite processing applications Australia-wide and all iron ore applications in the Braemar (including New South Wales) for a period of four years.

Formed in 2017 by RFC Ambrian, Advisian Digital and the CSIRO, NextOre aims to commercialise magnetic resonance ore sorting technology, an on-belt mineral sensing technology developed by the CSIRO. The technology uses a magnetic resonance analyser (MRA), a form of radio frequency spectroscopy, for the quantitative measurement of target ore minerals.

The use of the MRA allows for a high throughput, high accuracy bulk sorting application that is typically added to the front-end of a processing flow sheet to divert waste ores away before processing, according to Magnetite Mines. “This has the effect of improving mining grades by pre-concentrating the ore that will be subject to processing, whilst rejecting significant tonnages of low-grade material to tailings via a diversion method such as a chute flop gate or dead box diverter.”

The theorised result of ore sorting is a reduced volume of upgraded ore that performs better in the processing plant while reducing processing costs as nil-value material that would ordinarily be subject to downstream processing is rejected early on, according to the company.

“Unlike traditional ore sorting technologies that are based on X-ray or infra-red transmission, NextOre’s on-belt MRA ore sorting solution allows for the grade of high throughput ore to be measured at industry-leading accuracies and speeds. Due to the high speed of the technology, the integrative system is able to perform the analysis, computation and physical diversion of waste ores down to 1 second intervals allowing for fast diversion or high resolution sorting.”

Magnetite Mines Chairman, Peter Schubert, said: “We see great potential for technology to unlock a step change in competitiveness of our Razorback iron project (pictured). NextOre has completed an initial mathematical assessment based on our extensive geological data and the results are encouraging.”

Schubert said the company was moving to bulk test work to prove its application in its Razorback iron project, which has generated some 3,900 Mt of iron ore resources and has over 110 km of unexplored strike. The company believes it will be able to produce a 68.8% Fe concentrate from the project.

He added: “NextOre’s magnetic resonance sorting technology, developed over many years in conjunction with the CSIRO, has a rapid response time allowing unprecedented selection accuracy and speed.

“The result is a substantial increase in the head grade of plant feed, resulting in lower unit operating costs and a significant improvement in capital efficiency. But the application of this technology also gives environmental benefits, with enhanced water efficiency and lower tailings levels.”

Razorback already has advantages of scale, proximity to established ports, proximity to rail and shallow stripping, according to Schubert, “but the NextOre technology takes the competitiveness of the resource to another level”.

The company has initiated a desktop study of NextOre’s ore sorting solution with initial results to-date being very positive, it said.

Initial analysis of the macro-scale heterogeneity of the Razorback iron project JORC 2012 mineral resources indicates that the orebodies are suited to the application of ore sorting.

“The highly selective technology is particularly well suited to magnetite measurement and can be calibrated for several mineral types,” it said. “Further test work is envisaged in the near future in aid of refining the existing flowsheet.”

Chris Beal, CEO of NextOre, said: “The Braemar Province is really an astonishingly vast mineralogical system and represents an incredible potential for value. Owing in large part to the way nature arranged its geology, the system appears particularly well suited to the application of bulk ore sorting systems.

“In terms of reductions in water and electricity consumption, tailings dam size reductions, and overall plant efficiencies, the application of bulk ore sorting has the potential to impact developments in the region in a significant way.”