Turkish Quartz mining company Mikroman Maden A.Ş is leveraging TOMRA’s laser-based ore sorting solution to process the finer materials at its operations and turn them into value, the sorting company says.
Mikroman first adopted sensor-based sorting technology at three of its processing plants in 2018, installing three high-capacity TOMRA PRO Secondary LASER sorters, in the process, reaching its target of improving product quality and increasing capacity at these facilities.
At its Kula plant in Manisa province, which requires the most precise mineral sorting, it combined TOMRA’s COLOR and LASER technologies to achieve the best results and recovery with the highest purity levels, as well as creating products of differing quality to meet the specific needs of a variety of markets, TOMRA says.
Satisfied with the results achieved at the Kula plant by using sorters on bigger particle sizes, Mikroman asked TOMRA for a solution to process the finer materials and turn them into value.
Mikroman was processing particles sizes down to 15 mm with a PRO Tertiary COLOR, and TOMRA installed three additional PRO Tertiary COLOR sorters for finer particles: two for sorting particle sizes from 2-4 mm and one for sizes from 4-10 mm to remove coloured impurities from the material, which is then processed further in a micronised plant on the premises.
These sorters offer increased product flexibility for the company, according to TOMRA.
Mikroman also wanted to achieve the high purity levels achieved with laser technology in grain sizes below 20 mm, but, at the time, the PRO Tertiary was only available with COLOR technology, according to Ines Hartwig, Director Product Management at TOMRA Mining.
TOMRA looked into the development of a new product implementing the TOMRA multi-channel LASER technology in the PRO Tertiary platform, she said.
“With this solution, also white non-quartz impurities like shist, feldspar, shale and calcite can be detected and sorted out to achieve a pure white, high-grade quartz product,” Hartwig said.
TOMRA developed and tested extensively the new PRO Tertiary LASER sorter (pictured below) in close collaboration with Mikroman.
Serhat Saran, Chairman of the Board of Directors and General Manager of Mikroman, remarked: “We worked as if TOMRA’s Research and Development department was one with our own.”
Hartwig added: “As Mikroman had already implemented the LASER technology for bigger grain sizes and had experienced its advantages compared to COLOR sorters, it was a perfect fit to collaborate, design and field test this new product. They provided us with the small particle references of product and waste that they expected to sort and our engineering team developed the new machine with the support of Markus Dehler, Manager of the TOMRA Mining Test Center.”
The resultant PRO Tertiary LASER sorter uses the same multi-channel LASER technology as the PRO Secondary platform, but is specialised in detecting and sorting smaller sized material, from 6-32 mm, according to TOMRA. The distance between detection and ejection is minimised and the number of ejectors increased to result in a very precise, effective and efficient sorting and highest product quality and yield.
“The TOMRA PRO Tertiary LASER is a low-maintenance, simple and stable platform that has the advantage of being the only one on the market to offer customisation of the laser wavelengths to match the specific application,” TOMRA said. “The development was completed in a short timeframe and a new PRO Tertiary LASER sorter was installed at the Kula plant to process grain sizes 5-15 mm and 15-35 mm.”
The two PRO Tertiary COLOR and LASER sorters combined are consistently removing 98% of impurities in small sizes from 5-35 mm, while delivering savings in water, fuel and electricity consumption in the downstream process, according to TOMRA.
With these investments, Mikroman has expanded its capacity and product portfolio to serve a wide range of industries – composite stone, glass, electronics, metallurgy, paint and ceramics, among others – and exports to 15 countries including the US, Spain, Italy and Israel.
“The ability to sort all the size ranges offered by TOMRA according to the colour and chemistry of the product has allowed us to become the leading company in the sector, and to hold a large share of 65% of the exports around the world and domestic sales in Turkey,” Saran said.
The collaboration with TOMRA has developed as Mikroman’s operation evolved, with the addition of further COLOR and LASER sorters, which now total 18 units across four plants. This includes 10 TOMRA sorters at the Yava and Kula plants, one in its Karpuzlu mine in the Aydin province and two sorters at the new Catalca plant in Istanbul. It has also ordered two additional PRO Tertiary COLOR sorters and a PRO Tertiary LASER, which have been delivered and will soon be installed at the Kula plant.