Some 18 months after launching TOMRA Insight to mining customers, the cloud-based data platform is making inroads across the North American mining sector, Harold Cline and Jordan Rutledge told IM on the side lines of the MINEXCHANGE 2022 SME Annual Conference & Expo in Salt Lake City recently.
TOMRA rolled out the subscription-based service to mining back in late 2020, with one of the early adopters being the Black chrome mine in South Africa, one of two mining projects that form the basis of the Sail Group’s plans for long-term sustainable chrome production.
TOMRA Insight, the company says, enables sorting machine users to improve operational efficiencies through a service that turns these machines into connected devices for the generation of valuable process data.
Cline and Rutledge, both TOMRA Sorting Area Sales Managers for North America, said numerous customers were now taking advantage of TOMRA Insight across the region, with many more interested in leveraging the continuous data streams coming off a web-based portal stored securely in the cloud.
TOMRA’s Harold Cline & Jordan Rutledge
“This is seeing mine managers able to tap into how operations are performing today, while tracking that against performance over the last day, week, month, quarter, etc,” Cline told IM. “With the help of our support network, these operations are able to achieve more consistent performance.”
With more customers signing up to TOMRA Insight and more data being generated, the pair were confident future iterations of the platform would be able to offer machine-learning algorithms that helped, for example, predict failures or highlight potential areas for operational improvements.
At the show, the pair were also highlighting the ongoing demand for TOMRA’s Final Recovery sorter, the COM XRT 300/FR, which, since launch, has been successfully deployed at the Letšeng diamond mine in Lesotho, owned by Gem Diamonds. The solution has gone on to be rolled out at other operations.
The introduction of the COM XRT 300/FR, TOMRA became the first company in the industry able to supply a full diamond recovery solution using XRT technology from 2-100 mm, with the unit delivering concentration factors of up to one million with limited stages and guaranteeing more than 99% diamond recovery, according to the company.
Outside of diamonds and sorter analytics, Cline was keen to talk up demand from the gold sector for the company’s sorters.
One of the key differentiators of its offering to the yellow metal space is the ability to scan the material with a multi-channel laser sensor. In an ore sorting setup that involves both XRT and LASER sensor-based machines, the TOMRA solution can remove particles containing sulphide minerals using XRT and subsequently leverage laser sensors to remove particles containing quartz and calcite.
TOMRA says its segregated option can potentially improve recoveries in quartz-associated gold applications thanks to a laser chute-based machine that analyses rocks from both sides. Other belt-based laser machines can only analyse a maximum of 40% of the rock’s surface, according to TOMRA.
“In the gold scenario, we are using XRT to sense and sort with sulphide minerals as a proxy,” Cline said. “At the same time, our laser scanner allows further separation capabilities through identification of minerals such as quartz and calcite.”
Vista Gold, which is developing the Mt Todd project in Australia, anticipates that this combined solution could eliminate approximately 10% of the run-of-mine feed to the grinding circuit, allowing the company to decrease the grind size and thereby increase recovery of the contained gold.
The COM XRT 300/FR offers a full diamond recovery solution
Cline added: “In North America, we have three projects in the gold space we’re working on at the moment that appreciate our unit’s ability to analyse the whole of the particle through our chute mechanism, as opposed to conveyor-based systems that can only analyse one angle of the particle.”
While TOMRA offers multiple sensors on its units through its modular platform, Rutledge said the company continues to have discussions on combining its solutions with other bulk sorting suppliers to further improve the process, naming prompt gamma neutron activation analysis (PGNAA) technology as one specific area of interest.
“We very often refer clients on to other companies when our solution may not match their brief,” she said. “At the same time, we have done some flowsheet work to include our solution with others currently on the market and believe it is only a matter of time before a combination of the two comes into a flowsheet.”