NRC’s Lumine™ technology combines LIBS with AI for real time conveyor ore smart sensing

Combining laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) with artificial intelligence (AI), Lumine™ is an emerging new sensing platform developed as part of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) High-efficiency Mining program.

“Analysing rolling stones on a moving belt is a bumpy and dusty business,” says Daniel Gagnon, Leader of the Systems Integration and Prototypes Team at the NRC. “Our experts used three key approaches to overcome challenges along the rocky road, to achieve smart sensing in a harsh, moving environment.”

First, smart mineralogy – the NRC has developed mineralogical detection and quantification algorithms that process large volumes of LIBS raw data. Powered by AI, the algorithms enable mine operators to progress from models and instrument data to concrete insights that can guide decisions about rock sorting and processing.

Second to address the fact that laser beams have trouble focussing on moving rocks of different sizes, the NRC’s instrumentation experts developed high-performance autofocussing optics for LIBS. This very fast autofocus allows the focal length of the LIBS spot to automatically adjust its position so that each LIBS measurement can be used.

Third, optical surface measurement techniques are very sensitive to surface contaminants like humidity and dust. This only gets worse in a harsh environment where airborne dust abounds. To overcome this challenge, the NRC’s aerodynamics and mechanical experts designed an advanced air nozzle that cleans the rock surface of deposited dust particles and ensures a clean optical laser path, eliminating surface and airborne dust effects.

Lumine™ will soon be deployed at an industrial testing site for the first time. The NRC is partnering with a large international mining company with operations in South Africa to validate proof of concept, deepen data management, and advance technology readiness levels, at one of their sites in South Africa. CRC ORE has also identified Lumine™ as one of the most promising sensing technologies for mineralogy quantification in real time.

Canadian mining companies and sensor developers can harness the benefits of smart sensing at the NRC’s mining sensors hub in Boucherville, Quebec – a national, accessible facility for sensor development and testing. “Ultimately, identifying the right rocks to crush and the most promising areas for extraction not only increases efficiency for mine operators. Lumine™ can also be a powerful tool for reducing the environmental footprint of the mining sector.”

“Lumine™ gives Canadian miners a sustainable, competitive advantage in today’s critical minerals global market,” says Sevan Bedrossian, Leader of the NRC’s High-efficiency Mining program. “We are proud of everything our team has accomplished in developing this cutting-edge, made-in-Canada technology and looking toward a bright future for smart sensing and real-time mineralogy characterisation in mining operations.”