Tag Archives: Mathilde Robben

TOMRA on achieving mining’s ‘circular economy’

TOMRA, a global leader in sensor-based technologies, says it understands that technology alone is not enough to create a closed-loop circular economy, with public policy, consumer engagement and collaboration across the value chain are necessary too.

Making the shift from “linear to circular” to build thriving economies requires radically lessening the environmental impact of extracting raw materials, reducing the use of primary resources, designing waste-free products, harnessing materials to keep them in use and implementing technologies to ensure the system is regenerative.

ReSociety

TOMRA says it is well positioned to contribute to the transition to a circular economy by collaborating with key players across the value chain to develop new methods, processes, technologies and business models.

To this end, it has created ReSociety, a global collaborative initiative to re-think, re-act and re-start our world for a more sustainable future.

“It is a place for industry, policy makers, companies and consumers to share ideas, increase awareness, collaborate with solution enablers and drive impactful change,” the company says. “It is also a hub in which TOMRA proactively shares its vast research and multi-national studies on holistic waste management systems, which have been indispensable in developing the circular value chains.”

Dr Volker Rehrmann, Head of Circular Economy, TOMRA, says: “Our commitment to the circular economy is unequivocal. Until recently, it was unheard of having players from the entire value chain at one table. From chemical companies to converters, retailers and brand owners, waste management companies and recyclers – there’s true dedication in finding solutions. We take pride in doing our part: sharing our know-how, developing new solutions and striving to make our planet more sustainable every day.”

Dr Volker Rehrmann, Head of Circular Economy, TOMRA

Dr Rehrmann says the company is aiming to build on the experience it developed in recycling and collaborate with the mining industry to reduce the environmental impact of its operations.

“This means finding green mining solutions that use less energy and water to recover resources – with a consequent reduction in CO2 emissions – and ways to turn waste into value,” he says.

“With the recycling sector, we are working on reducing the mountains of plastic waste; we want to do the same in mining and address the dumps and tailings building up in mines.”

Advanced mining tech with a small environmental footprint

As the world addresses the environmental challenges of our time, the mining industry has an important contribution to make. Mining companies need to find ways to maximise the efficiency of their operations to cut back on the use of water and other resources, while reducing waste and the total impact on the environment as much as possible. Amongst other challenges, they need to effectively address the storage and handling of tailings which pose a potential physical and chemical environmental risk.

TOMRA’s advanced sensor-based sorting technologies can not only significantly reduce the environmental impact of mining operations and, at completion, fully rehabilitate the site. They also enable a much more efficient use of resources. These solutions bring the dual benefits of greater sustainability and better profitability for the mining company.

TOMRA’s sensor-based sorting technology has been shown to significantly reduce the amount of energy and water used compared with traditional methods like DMS (Dense Media Separation), while maximising the efficiency and recovery of valuable ores. An extensive study conducted by Alchemy Process Plants (AlcPro) comparing these processing methods concluded that TOMRA’s solution also brings multiple cost benefits.

AlcPro’s Erik Bruggink explains: “Although capital costs of the separation circuits are similar, with DMS, the additional cost of handling the resultant water from the circuit needs to be taken into consideration together with the associated water use licensing and tailings facilities. In addition, TOMRA’s sensor-based sorting technology requires no reagents, and maintenance costs are limited to the sorting unit and the associated conveyors, screens and chutes.”

Water consumption is a key consideration when assessing the environmental impact of a mine, as it can severely affect local supply. Water management strategies are integral to reducing the mine’s usage and ensure future water security for the communities in the mine’s surrounding areas. The Water Research Commission in South Africa commissioned a project to compile a compendium of best practices and technological innovations in the mining industry with regards to Water Conservation and Water Demand Management, with the study identifying TOMRA’s X-Ray Transmission (XRT) sorting technology as a solution that would lead to substantial improvements in water use efficiency.

José Guilherme Valadares, Project Coordinator of Exploration and Mineral Projects at Vale, says: “By reducing the mine’s water usage and fine-grained wastes, TOMRA’s sensor-based sorting technologies also contribute to improving the issue of wet tailings management and, with that, mitigate the risks associated with tailings dams.”

Vale is now investigating the implementation of sensor-based sorting in several mines and processes in Brazil, TOMRA says

Turning waste into value

TOMRA’s sensor-based sorting technology can contribute to circular economy practices at the mine and processing plant, turning marginal waste into value with a positive impact on both the sustainability and profitability of the operation. This is the case at Wolfram’s tungsten mine in Mittersill, Austria, where TOMRA has installed two COM Tertiary XRT sorters.

Alexander Mosser, Manager Ore Dressing Plant, explains: “The sorting system in the scheelite processing in Mittersill sorts out waste material with a size range of 16-60 mm. This eliminates the grinding and flotation that would otherwise be required for this material. This results in the following savings for the coarse waste material compared to grinding and flotation: 75% lower power consumption and no water and no flotation reagents are required. Another resource conservation: the separated waste is a saleable product to the local construction industry. The sewage ponds are relieved and the impact on nature through local gravel pits is reduced. The sorting system thus not only reduces the footprint of the mine but also of the surrounding gravel pits.”

Sustainability as a facilitator

The proven environmental benefits of TOMRA’s sensor-based sorting solutions bring mining operations additional advantages. They can facilitate obtaining the licences needed to start a mining project by proving the efficient use of water and energy, the significantly reduced amount of waste materials, chemicals/reagents, and lower environmental risks such as tailings dam collapse.

Rare earths mining company Cheetah Resources has obtained a loan from the Canadian Federal Government to purchase a TOMRA sorter for its Nechalacho Demonstration Project in Yellowknife, Canada, on the strength of the sustainable performance of its XRT technology, TOMRA says.

(Left to right) Jeremy Catholique, Mathew Edler and Clarance Pikes from the Nechalacho Demonstration Project team in Yellowknife

The sorting solution will significantly reduce the amount of water and fuel used and eliminate chemicals and tailings from the mining process. Leftover waste rock can be stockpiled for future use or used on infrastructure projects, such as road construction. The aim of the project is to create a low-impact facility for the production of rare earth minerals used in green technologies, which will generate employment and economic benefits in the region.

“We anticipate that, with this project, we will demonstrate the economic feasibility as well as the technical and environmental advantages of sensor-based sorting of rare earths to produce a value-added mixed rare earth concentrate in the Northwest Territories,” David Connelly, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Strategy at Cheetah Resources, says.

The path to a more sustainable future starts today

Overcoming environmental pollution by enabling the transition to a circular economy is one of the central challenges of the 21st century. Mining has a key role to play as the supplier of the raw materials, but a holistic approach is necessary. Beyond efficient operation and waste management in extracting the primary resources, it is necessary to curtail excessive consumption and ensure products are designed to be reused, and, once at the end of life, easily recycled. Such a holistic approach also includes raising global awareness within the industries and with consumers.

Dr Mathilde Robben, Key Account Manager at TOMRA Sorting Mining, explains: “The raw materials supplied by mining are vital for our modern way of living and are critical for the energy transition technologies. With mining as the entry point for these necessary materials, the circle will never be closed completely. However, this should be seen as an opportunity for the mining industry to re-think the way it fulfils this essential role with minimal impact on the environment, and for sectors downstream to shift focus from the core business to the chain around it, without losing sight of profitability. Re-using can be prioritised by the use of certain metals that are infinitely recyclable and whose inherent durability and anti-corrosive properties contribute to the longevity of the products they are used in.”

Metso Outotec and TOMRA to supply particle ore sorting solutions for mining

Metso Outotec and TOMRA Mining have agreed to continue a non-exclusive cooperation to supply particle ore sorting solutions for the mining and metallurgical industries.

The collaboration expands Metso Outotec’s and TOMRA’s capability to offer leading-edge solutions that help increase the overall value of ore deposits by reaching new levels of energy efficiency and productivity, decreasing costs and extending the life of mining operations, the companies said.

“Separating ore from waste rock as early and as efficiently as possible is essential in minerals processing. The best result can be achieved by combining state-of-the-art crushing systems with advanced ore sorting,” Guillaume Lambert, Vice President, Crushing at Metso Outotec, said. “The combination of Metso Outotec’s crushing know-how and TOMRA’s particle ore sorting expertise is an excellent match, providing substantial benefits to our customers.”

TOMRA’s sensor-based sorting solution has proven itself in the mining sector through many major installations.

It can reduce specific energy consumption by 15%, as well as the amount of water used by three to four cubic meters per tonne of ore, according to the company. This makes it a cost-effective and sustainable solution that can benefit both mining operations and the environment.

Mathilde Robben, Key Account Manager at TOMRA Mining, said: “TOMRA, as an original equipment manufacturer, can add significant value to the process and engineering optimisation of sensor-based sorting inclusive solutions when engaging with our customers within a cooperation agreement framework.”

TOMRA Sorting Solutions and Outotec (prior to merging with Metso) struck a cooperation agreement to supply Outotec-branded sorting solutions for the mining and metallurgical industry all the way back in 2014.

TOMRA delves below ground with K+S sensor-based sorter delivery

TOMRA Sorting Mining has delivered its first underground sensor-based ore sorting solution to K+S Minerals and Agriculture at its rock salt mine in Grasleben, Germany.

The major salt producer looked to TOMRA, which it has a long-standing research and development relationship with, to replace an existing sorting system at the mine.

At the Grasleben mine, rock salt is extracted from an underground deposit that stretches across two states. It is processed into a wide range of products, from de-icing salt for winter road services, to food-grade table salts and lick stones for livestock and domestic animals.

“For K+S, consistently achieving certified and guaranteed high purity, compliant with the strict standards of the food industry, is a priority,” TOMRA said.

Sven Raabe, Technische Büro Mechanik, K+S Minerals and Agriculture, said: “The sorting of rock salt is complex and demanding due to its crystalline properties. This leads to strong fluctuations in the appearance of the material.”

TOMRA recommended using colour sorting technology for this installation, with Mathilde Robben, Key Account Manager at TOMRA Mining, saying the customised setup of light sources allows the system to “detect the difference in transparency of the different particles, ensuring the high quality of the rock salt”.

The team also advised installing the sorter in the underground mine, so, after the initial underground sorting stage, only the coarsely crushed rock salt undergoes further grinding and sieving above ground.

Mathilde Robben, Key Account Manager at TOMRA Mining

“Only the valuable product needs to be transported in the shaft, and the final result is high-quality, pure rock salt products in various grain sizes, which are ideal for this application,” TOMRA said. “Furthermore, waste rejects can be backfilled underground, avoiding storage and emissions on the surface.”

TOMRA conducted a demonstration of the proposed solution at its Demonstration and Test Center in Wedel, Germany. Raabe attended the test with colleagues from K+S’s technical team, Florian Lieske, Stephan Meiberg and Sven Lindner.

“The tests were very well prepared,” Raabe said. “The on-site team quickly developed a feel for our product. The uncomplicated adaptation of the program to the different material qualities also convinced us.”

He added: “An important factor in our purchasing decision was the positive test result achieved with the system, using transmitted light to obtain more efficient separation. This has the added benefit of resource conservation. It is possible to react quickly and individually to changing situations during dismantling. We expect this to be more effective, and the ease of use of the system was also convincing.”

Following this experience and the results of the test, K+S placed the order for TOMRA’s solution, with installation planned for September 2020. The negotiations were conducted via video conference due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions and lockdowns.

The order was entered in TOMRA’s production plan and the Factory Acceptance Test was conducted on September 23, with the sorter transported to the Grasleben mine. It was put in position underground at the mine on September 30.

Robben concluded: “This is the first solution we provide for underground sorting, which raises specific challenges due to the dimensions and weight limitations of the mine shaft. In this project we also had to contend with the difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am very pleased that we have been able to meet K+S’s requirements and deliver on schedule.”

TOMRA sensor-based ore sorting tech to help miners achieve circular economy

TOMRA Sorting Mining believes its sensor-based ore sorting solutions have a role to play in the new circular economy, helping miners reduce their impact on the environment while remaining profitable.

Last March, the European Commission announced its Circular Economy Action Plan as one of the main blocks of the European Green Deal. This new EU action plan promotes the idea of a circular economy and fosters sustainable processes along the entire lifecycle of products, aiming to ensure the resources used remain in use for as long as possible.

The plan focuses on the sectors that use most resources and where the potential for circularity is high, many of which rely on the mining industry for their raw materials, TOMRA says.

“Mining will play a vital role, as primary resources will continue to be needed due to the growing population and rising per capita consumption, and because it is impossible to close the loop,” the company explained. “They are also used for modern applications in energy production and high-tech products.

“In addition, the sustainable development goals that the United Nations have set up for 2030 are driving the development of green technologies that use a variety of minerals. Mining companies will have to adapt as their customers shift to a circular economy approach, and they will have a key role to play in this transition.”

The development of a circular economy in mining presents both challenges and opportunities for mining companies. It has the potential to address the shortage of mineral resources, waste of resources and environmental pollution while generating economic benefits, according to TOMRA.

“The circular-economy approach prioritises reusing materials over extracting new raw materials,” it said. “However, the need for virgin materials remains, and wherever they are used, their footprint should be as small as possible.”

In order to reduce the footprint of the products they offer, mining companies will need to find ways to maximise the efficiency of their operations and to minimise the use of energy and other inputs, while reducing waste as much as possible.

Dr Mathilde Robben, Key Account Manager at TOMRA Sorting Mining, said: “Climate change and the pursuit of sustainable energy are shaping the global economy of the future, driving the transition from a linear to a circular economy model. The mining industry is already adapting and shifting towards a Green Mining approach.

“As a large consumer of energy, water and chemicals, it is a prime example of a sector where much can be done to reduce the impact on the environment. However, it is vital that it achieves this move towards sustainable practices without losing sight of profitability.”

This is where TOMRA’s advanced sensor-based sorting technologies, using sensors such as X-ray Transmission (XRT), come into play.

Dr Robben continued: “TOMRA’s advanced sensor-based sorting technologies address the main challenges the mining industry faces today, such as declining head grades and increasingly difficult to access orebodies, rising energy and labour costs, and increased environmental liability, while providing a highly cost-effective solution for mining operations to participate in the circular economy and make the most of the new opportunities it brings.”

TOMRA seminar highlights sensor-based ore sorting benefits

TOMRA recently held a seminar on sustainable mining solutions and sensor-based sorting that, it said, addressed major challenges of the mining industry, including increasing pressure to be more financially streamlined and radically more efficient, while addressing environmental and sustainability concerns.

Sensor-based sorting (SBS) is proving to be an increasingly important tool both to formulate optimal solutions for greenfield projects and to help conquer challenges for keeping brownfields operations viable, converting the mining operation’s resource into value, according to TOMRA.

During this seminar at the Colorado School of Mines, TOMRA’s specialists were joined by guest speakers to examine all aspects of a sensor-based sorting operation with a broad range of topics including sorting technology, applications, plant design, test work and economic considerations.

The 62 participants came from all across the US and Canada, and included representatives from mining companies, engineering firms and students and professors eager to learn more about the applications and technology.

Corby Anderson, Harrison Western Professor at the Colorado School of Mines, opened the seminar with an introduction of recycling, recovery and sorting. The next talk focused on sensor-based sorting technologies and their applications, as well as highlighting fully operational SBS plants in the mining industry.

TOMRA’s Mathilde Robben explained the importance of setting objectives for SBS and the financial and technical aspects to evaluate.

“The most critical factors to consider when assessing the feasibility of sorting are throughput requirements, particle size and potential water usage, as well as the mineralogy of the ore,” TOMRA said, adding that having a clear understanding of where sorting can benefit in the process is paramount when planning to use this technology.

Test work is the best way to determine if SBS will work for an application, and TOMRA’s Chris Korsten explained the company’s test work philosophy to identify the best solution that will meet the mining operation’s specific conditions and objectives.

Guest speaker Erik Stepperud of Hazen Research, the industrial R&D company specialising in the mining, chemical, energy and environmental industries, shared his expertise in assays and interpretation of test results, while Craig Murray of the Saskatchewan Research Council spoke about testing and support services for projects using sorting technology.

Downstream impacts

When designing optimal sorting plants, it is critical to understand the necessary auxiliary components for materials handling, such as screens, washing and conveying, and where to place the sorter in the flowsheet to optimise the process and get the most out of SBS, according to TOMRA.

Particle size is critical to SBS, so designing optimal crushing and screening units is vital, and TOMRA invited expert speakers to cover these topics: Jörn Rohleder of Outotec, which specialises in designing leading technologies and services for the sustainable use of natural resources, discussed crushing design and Eli Cannell of Joest, a leader in vibration technology, elaborated on screening. Greg Black of Golden Eagle Technologies, meanwhile, covered the topic of dust extraction.

SBS can have a huge positive impact on the downstream operations of a flowsheet, as more waste is rejected from the process upstream. This means waste is not carried through the rest of the process, resulting in significant savings in energy, water and chemicals. A further benefit is the reduction of fine tailings that are environmentally challenging to manage.

The seminar was very well received, according to TOMRA, and achieved its goal of providing a pragmatic foundation on SBS projects. Genevieve Gosselin, Senior Technical Metallurgist at Agnico Eagle Mines, said, “The seminar gave us keys for the implementation of ore sorting in brownfields and greenfields mining projects”. Vera Gella, Metallurgist at BBA, said: “For us, the test work preparation and flowsheet design are most relevant to what we do every day and being able to quickly assess whether or not sorting is applicable to a given project. Like Jörn pointed out, if you pick the wrong crushing/SBS circuit design up front, it can drastically change the outcome of a project. It’s critical to think carefully about how to get the most out of your sorting circuit.”

It also raised awareness of aspects that participants may not have considered in the past. For Gosselin it was “how important the geology of the deposit is, and the need to evaluate this before starting bench and pilot scale testing”. Gella, on the other hand, was struck by the sustainability aspect, which is becoming increasingly important: “One of the things that we hadn’t thought about because our scope was focused on the economic tradeoff was the environmental impacts of SBS. The environment is becoming more and more of a focus for all stakeholders and will be a key driver for mining projects going forward.”