TOMRA is offering diamond mining customers a guaranteed diamond recovery of greater than 98% with the use of its sensor-based ore sorting technology.
The company is making this guarantee alongside a promise of 100% detection in the specified range, irrespective of luminescence profile or coating.
As the company says, maximising diamond recovery while optimising costs is the top priority for every diamond producer.
“With TOMRA’s holistic approach and cutting-edge technologies, both can be achieved to deliver outstanding results,” it said, adding that its X-ray Transmission (XRT) diamond recovery technology has helped recover some of the largest and rarest gemstones in history.
TOMRA says it approaches every project as a partnership with the customer to deliver a complete solution that meets their operational and business requirements.
This begins with a detailed analysis of the customer’s requirements and operational needs.
Working collaboratively, it assists in developing a tailor-made flowsheet redesign that combines its XRT technology with its Near Infrared (NIR) and Laser solutions as needed. This collaborative approach continues throughout the project, with testing at its Test Center in Germany and, on-site, as required, through to installation and beyond.
More recently, this approach has been enhanced with the development of a remote testing option.
“The complete solution can also include the web-based TOMRA Insight platform that turns all the sorters into connected devices for monitoring and tracking the system’s performance,” the company said.
Once the system is fully operational, TOMRA offers its Service Level Agreement to ensure its solution continues to deliver the desired results.
“The tailored agreement can include on-site presence as required, seven days a week product support, application engineer visits, tiered urgency support, targeted site response, training, as well as spare and wear parts coverage to ensure maximum uptime and protect the customer’s investment,” the company said.
Advanced technologies adding value
TOMRA’s XRT technology recognises and separates material based on its specific atomic density. It uses a cutting-edge X-ray camera with DUOLINE® sensor technology to measure spectral absorption information.
TOMRA’s proprietary high-speed X-ray processing unit uses the data to produce a detailed “density image” of the material. The result is a high level of purity in sorting materials, irrespective of size, the degree of moisture or surface pollution present, TOMRA says. This makes TOMRA’s XRT high-capacity sorters effective in the recovery of free, liberated diamonds at high feed rates up to 300 t/h.
TOMRA’s NIR sorters recognise and separate kimberlite and waste rock based on their chemical composition. This technology is useful in upgrading lower grade run of mine and stockpiles, producing a kimberlite concentrate for further processing, the company says.
Marie-Claude Hallé had first-hand experience of how TOMRA’s solutions can add value to diamond mining operations when she held the role as Marketing Operations Manager for diamond exploration and producing company, Stornoway Diamonds.
“You have to really envision that TOMRA has actually changed the game in terms rough diamond recovered around the world and allowed producers to access large exceptional quality goods that perhaps in the past would be crushed to pieces,” Hallé said.
Customised solutions for kimberlite, lamproite and alluvial applications
With its customised approach, TOMRA says it can deliver on its promise of guaranteed results both in hard-rock kimberlite/lamproite and alluvial deposits – each of which presents their specific challenges.
In kimberlite, the challenge is to recover “needle in a haystack” diamonds, which requires controlled crushing of kimberlite ore to avoid damaging or breaking the diamonds, the company says.
“High waste dilution impacts the crushing energy needed and further increases diamond breakage risk,” TOMRA says. “Utilising TOMRA NIR technologies, we can remove non-diamond bearing material, not only improving the crushing profile of the ore, but also increasing the value of each tonne of ore processed. TOMRA NIR waste sorting technology can make diluted marginal kimberlite deposits economic.”
Additionally, complex, energy- and water-intensive kimberlite liberation processes, and the cost of transportation for crushing and processing, are challenges facing modern diamond miners today.
“TOMRA’s XRT and NIR technologies, which offer extremely high concentration factors, allow the production of hand sortable, ultra-high grade concentrates in as little as two stages compared to up to seven in traditional methods,” the company claims.
The challenge of economically mining low-grade alluvial deposits is due to their typically lower grade and the sporadic nature of the deposits.
The high recovery performance of TOMRA’s XRT technology enables single-stage or double-stage diamond recovery, offering a drastically lower operating cost and capital investment so that mining marginal deposits becomes economically viable, according to TOMRA.
“Another advantage of TOMRA’s XRT solution is that it can operate as a dry process, which dramatically reduces its environmental impact and operational complexity,” it says. “Besides, it opens the door to new opportunities, making it possible to mine deposits in arid areas where water access is minimal.”
TOMRA XRT machines have proved effective in alluvial operations, the company says.
One such case is that of the Lulo mine in Angola, operated by Lucapa Diamonds, where TOMRA XRT technology is used to process material between 18 and 55 mm in size and allows the recovery of diamonds of up to 1,100 ct – and where it has recovered Angola’s second-biggest diamond on record, a 227 ct stone in 2017.
Stephen Wetherall, Lucapa Diamonds Managing Director at the time of the recovery, said: “The recovery of the 227 ct diamond using the new XRT circuit justifies our investment in TOMRA’s large diamond recovery technology, which has more than paid for itself with the recovery of this one stone alone.”
TOMRA is in the unique position of being able to offer diamond operations a full XRT recovery flow sheet to 2 mm that delivers concentration factors up to 1 million with a much-reduced number of concentration stages, it says.
Geoffrey Madderson, Diamond Segment Manager for TOMRA Sorting Mining, explains: “TOMRA XRT technology replaces multiple stages of diamond concentration by virtue of its ability to concentrate diamonds to a hand sortable product after only a single step. This concentration factor allows for the removal of multiple recovery steps, drastically reducing both the capital investment and operational costs to recover diamonds.”
TOMRA’s XRT technology can replace traditional methods such as dense media separation (DMS), wet magnetic separation and XRL final recovery with single-stage solutions for +8 mm and double-pass for -8 mm +4 mm particles, it claims.
“TOMRA’s solution eliminates up to seven concentration stages, dramatically reducing the complexity of the supporting plant and infrastructure,” the company says. “This results in significantly lower power and water consumption, which not only reduces costs, but also the environmental impact of the recovery process.”
An additional benefit of TOMRA’s solution is that it is a fully automated process, so there is no manual handling during pre-concentration and recovery, which has positive implications on security and eliminates human error, resulting in greater accuracy, the company says.
TOMRA’s sorters process these volumes with great efficiency, finding more diamonds than other, traditional separation methods – including coated and low- or non-luminescent diamonds, the company says.
The performance of its XRT sorters is independent of the “heavies” content in the feed, and is ideal for processing high-yielding ores unsuitable for DMS. The result is an exceptionally high recovery rate, it claims.
“TOMRA guarantees >98% recovery: that is how confident we are in our technology,” Madderson states.
With TOMRA’s sorting solutions, diamond producers can install large diamond recovery systems with a small capital investment and operate with a fraction of operating expenditures per tonne compared with traditional recovery methods such as DMS and XRL, it claims. In addition, the economic recovery of ultra low-frequency exceptional diamonds of +32 mm is now possible.
“TOMRA’s ability to deliver not only a technology that can detect such large diamonds, but also an economical process solution for the recovery of ultra-rare, exceptional diamonds is what sets it apart from its competitors,” Madderson said.
“This is the reason that, to date, TOMRA XRT has become synonymous with the recovery of extraordinary diamonds from all around the world.”