TOMRA Sorting Solutions is gearing up for major sensor-based ore sorting orders from the North America mining market after signing a co-operation agreement with the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC).
The company has won mining work across the globe over the last five or so years, moving from Africa diamond operations to a phosphate mine in Saudia Arabia – its largest installation to date (pictured) – to tin in South America and gold in Australia.
One of its more significant regional wins came in Canada, where it recently received a purchase order from Vital Metals’s Cheetah subsidiary to supply COM Tertiary X-ray Transmission (XRT) 1220/B ore sorting equipment to the Nechalacho rare earth project, in the Northwest Territories.
In announcing the order in January, Vital Metals said: “The ore sorting test work highlighted that the Nechalacho rare earth oxide (REO) project is one of the few and the first REO project to successfully use ore sorting to produce a high grade plus-35% REO concentrate without the use of reagents and water. This will substantially reduce the cost and the lead time to bring the Nechalacho REO project into production.”
Harold Cline, Area Sales Manager, Mining, TOMRA Sorting, said this win was significant as it was the first contract the company had sealed in North America following the agreement with the SRC.
SRC is now offering TOMRA clients sensor-based ore sorting process development work, testing and piloting as part of its full suite of SRC Mining and Energy services. The SRC also plans to expand these services further with the creation of the SRC Minerals Liberation Centre.
Up until recently, TOMRA had to send material from North America mining operations back to its test centre in Germany. While the TOMRA facilities in Europe are world-class, Cline said, having a location in North America could prove decisive when it comes to converting enquiries from miners to contracts.
“SRC was able to provide results to Cheetah in just four weeks,” he told IM on the side lines of the recent SME MineXchange Conference and Expo in Phoenix, Arizona.
This testing turnaround time could help TOMRA grow its mining sales in North America at a time when the region’s gold, industrial minerals, copper and lead-zinc mines are looking into sensor-based ore sorting solutions, according to Cline.