Tag Archives: TOMRA Sorting Mining

TOMRA completes the diamond recovery loop with new XRT solution

TOMRA Sorting Mining says it is breaking new ground with a “unique” X-ray Transmission (XRT) Final Recovery solution that guarantees 99% diamond recovery.

With the new introduction, TOMRA is the first company in the industry able to supply a full diamond recovery solution using XRT technology from 2-100 mm, coupled with all the benefits of cloud computing for monitoring and managing the entire process, it said.

The new TOMRA COM XRT 300/FR final recovery sorter delivers concentration factors of up to one million with limited stages and is the only solution on the market that guarantees more than 99% diamond recovery, according to the company.

“The new sorter stands out for the high sorting efficiencies, the high diamond-by-weight concentrate, and the benefits deriving from its focus on a single consistent detection principal, diamonds,” the company said. “With this new introduction, TOMRA offers a complete partnered diamond recovery ecosystem with a flowsheet covering the entire process – from concentration to final recovery and sort house – and includes custom development with the end-user all the way to installation, then continued management of the asset and support with specialised services and training.”

The TOMRA COM XRT 300/FR is the latest step in TOMRA’s long-term diamond sector strategy, Geoffrey Madderson, Diamond Segment Manager for TOMRA Sorting Mining.

“We always had this clear objective, but the technology just didn’t exist,” he said. “We knew that to achieve our goal, we would need extremely advanced sensor technology. We have been working in-house on the development the new ultra-high resolution sensor more than five years, and now we are able to close the loop: the COM XRT 300/FR is the last piece within our recovery process, covering the final recovery and sort house applications to produce an ultra-high diamond-by-weight concentrate.”

TOMRA says its holistic approach and unique offering has earned a strong market trust in its XRT technology. As a result, the first three TOMRA COM XRT 300/FR sorters produced have already been sold to customers, all of whom purchased the machines on the back of their experience of previous TOMRA sorters.

The makeup of the TOMRA COM XRT 300/FR sorters sees input material evenly fed via a vibration feeder onto a conveyor belt. An electric X-ray tube creates a broad-band radiation, which penetrates the material and provides spectral absorption information. This is measured with an X-ray camera using DUOLINE® sensor technology, which focuses on a single, constant property of the material, density, it explained.

The advanced ultra-high resolution sensor information is processed and analysed by our TOMRA’s new Image Processing Pipeline to provide a detailed “density image” of the material, allowing it to be separated into high- and low-density fractions. If diamonds are detected, it commands the control unit to open the appropriate valves of the ejection module at the end of the conveyor belt. The detected diamonds are separated from the material flow by jets of compressed air. The sorted material is divided into two fractions in the separation chamber.

The tight tolerances and accurate alignment of the new ultra-high resolution sensor results in a high-quality picture that ensures a clear discrimination between diamonds and low-density materials down to 2 mm, according to TOMRA. The sorter features high-speed valves with a fine nozzle pitch, which significantly reduces non-diamond material in the concentrate. The result is ultra-high diamond-by-weight concentrate with a guaranteed recovery of more than 99%, the company claims.

It is possible to replace multiple sorting stages with a single TOMRA COM XRT 300/FR sorter all the way down to hand sorting, according to the company. In the final recovery application, the sorter targets the highest tonnage through the sorter that can be achieved with the highest recovery efficiency, which ranges from five tonnes to one tonne. As a result, the operation benefits from a smaller footprint and achieves much better grade.

It is also possible to replace hand sorting with a TOMRA COM XRT 300/FR. In a sort house application, it targets the highest diamond-by-weight concentrate possible, with about half the tonnage than final recovery, bringing multiple benefits. It removes the traditional bottlenecks around hand sorting efficiencies and eliminates the human error factor, the company says. In addition, it provides a high level of security by protecting the product from human intervention.

TOMRA’s partnered diamond recovery ecosystem includes consultation services during the development of the system and throughout the lifecycle of the equipment, support running the sorters, and help with specialised services and training. The company has also leveraged digital technologies to provide effective support, through its Virtual Demonstration and Test Solution and features such as the TOMRA Visual Assist Augmented Reality tool for remote assistance.

“With TOMRA, the customer’s entire recovery system falls into one ecosystem,” explains Madderson. “This allows for better compatibility and interconnectivity between the different applications of the recovery process. It gives our customers the full benefit of using cloud computing through our TOMRA Insight platform, which turns our sorters into connected machines. This enables customers to monitor and manage their recovery process in one easy-to-access place for both on-site and off-site management teams.”

TOMRA has set up a showroom dedicated to demonstrations of the TOMRA COM XRT 300/FR sorter at its Test Center in Wedel, Germany. Later in the year, TOMRA will also offer virtual demonstrations for those unable to travel to the Test Center.

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 receives positive ore sorting signals as virtual offering gains pace

While the effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt across the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector, the time away from the office or mine site has enabled many within the industry to carry out work that could lead the industry into a whole new growth cycle.

The jury is out on when such an upturn could occur – these economic studies will not necessarily result in a positive mine investment decision – but this activity, coming alongside billions of dollars of investment from governments and central banks, bodes well for the future.

One company that has witnessed this increase in interest is TOMRA Sorting Mining. The Germany-based firm, known to miners for providing high-tech sorting solutions, including X-ray Transmission (XRT) technology, has received many enquiries since lockdowns were established across the globe in March and April, according to Jens-Michael Bergmann, Area Sales Manager for Europe, MENA and India.

“The number of enquiries has definitely increased since COVID-19 restrictions were put in place,” Bergmann told IM last week. “There are many people deep into prefeasibility or feasibility studies (FS) on projects who need ore sorting data for this. They are very happy to have this provided remotely.”

Jens-Michael Bergmann, Area Sales Manager for Europe, MENA and India, TOMRA Sorting Mining

Such remote work could range from the inspection of photos sent from smart phones or distributed within MS Teams videoconferences, to more advanced analysis and testing of material, Bergmann explained.

Fortunately, TOMRA is setup for this type of remote interaction. Its initial sales process – where mining companies will at this stage be considered ‘leads’ – usually involves the exchange of emails/phone calls, inspections of photos/videos and a few kilograms of material to sample.

The next stage would include the performance test, which could involve hundreds of tonnes of material and usually a visit to the Test Center in Wedel, Germany.

It is this stage that has been revamped recently to cater to the lack of travel options for clients.

TOMRA has opened virtual testing facilities that enable miners to take informed purchasing decisions for their processing plants, regardless of where the client may be located.

This brings the capabilities of the company’s Test Center to the client, offering a video of their material being sorted in an ore sorting unit and a follow-up detailed report including assays (supplied by a sub-contractor), ore sorting data and an estimation of just how optimal a sort could be achieved on that material when it is subjected to XRT technology.

“You have a complete document and resource to base economic decisions on,” Bergmann said.

TOMRA, last month, presented the Virtual Demonstration and Test Solution to the market as a “temporary” platform, but recent experience shows the potential for this becoming part of the company’s standard offering.

“We understand it currently to be a temporary version, but in recent days we have had some positive replies that make us think we can continue to offer it in the future to certain clients,” Bergmann said.

In a COVID-19-affected world where every decision to travel on a plane requires strong justification, flying from North or South America, Asia, or Australasia to Europe for a one-day test is unlikely to be warranted.

Such a trip involving operations teams, executives and metallurgists is more likely to take place when a detailed week-long trial examining the effects of sorting technology on roughing, cleaning and scavenging stages is planned, Bergmann said.

“We don’t think in the future we will go virtual permanently, or personal permanently,” Bergmann said.

Testing time for tungsten-tin

TOMRA only established these virtual facilities on May 12, but it has already carried out four or five of these tests for clients that either had sent samples to Wedel ahead of lockdowns or dispatched them during the period when travel was restricted.

Mike Hallewell, Consultant at MPH Minerals Consultancy Ltd

One of these tests has been for Tungsten West, the owner of the Hemerdon tungsten-tin asset in Devon, England.

Previously owned and operated by Wolf Minerals Ltd, Hemerdon has been offline since late 2018 after Wolf fell into financial trouble as the operation failed to reach expected recovery rates.

According to Tungsten West, Hemerdon hosts the world’s fourth largest tungsten resource, with the potential to become the world’s largest.

With eyes on re-starting the operation and improving recoveries, the company has been looking at XRT ore sorting technology to ensure the new operating plan stacks up over the long term.

Mike Hallewell, Consultant at MPH Minerals Consultancy Ltd, has been helping the company explore its processing options and said the virtual test work TOMRA carried out on behalf of Tungsten West was part of studies looking into a re-start of the mine.

“They are at scoping study level and now moving towards feasibility level,” he told IM. “Ore sorting is a key component of that next phase.”

Hallewell said the recording of the virtual test on an Hemerdon ore sample at Wedel was well received by both himself and Tungsten West.

“You have got to convince the Plant Manager that is operating the plant that it (XRT ore sorting) is something he will be comfortable with, on top of making the case to boards of directors that may not have the same metallurgical expertise as the operation guys,” he said.

“When people see particles being blown by the air jets, it greatly enhances the visual understanding of the separation technique being employed,” he added. “To see is to understand.”

TOMRA has done well replicating the experience project and executive teams would have had in Wedel in person with this testing, Hallewell said.

“They have thought about the things that a client would want to do and see if they were there,” he said.

“They provide a powerful video of the air jet stones hitting the sides, the bins where material is deposited into, and even go as far as putting their hands in that bin at the end to try and replicate that tangible feeling of the sort.”

Future indicators

The more successful TOMRA is at replicating the in-person experience virtually, the more likely these ‘temporary’ options will become part of its permanent offering.

Another area that could ‘go virtual’ in the future is the maintenance and servicing side of TOMRA’s ore sorting business, Bergmann believes.

“The maintenance side is moving in that direction already to a certain degree,” he said.

“Since everybody is currently facing travel restrictions, the infrastructure for accurate virtual maintenance will, in the future, be set up in all plants. The awareness of the need to do this will increase,” he said.

Certain parts of the contract negotiation process could also go virtual, such as “all the unloved paperwork”, Bergmann added.

But, the installation and final signoff of these machines is unlikely to make this transition, at least in the near term.

That is despite an XRT ore sorting machine from TOMRA recently being installed at Sotkamo Silver’s mine in Finland when lockdown conditions were still in place.

On this installation, specifically, Bergmann said: “A lot of pre-commissioning work on that unit took place ahead of the delivery and it was a representative from Outotec – a salesperson with engineering experience – that was able to commission it with remote assistance from our specialists in Germany.”

Looking past the virtual offering, TOMRA could be set for an upturn in business in the near- and medium-term if the influx of enquiries it has recently received is converted into, first, demonstrations and, then, sales.

“In terms of first inspections of material, I would say we have had around 50 enquiries in this lockdown period,” Bergmann said.

“While everyone is planning now, if they hit the investment button, there could be a lot of orders backed up. The manufacturing could run into a bottleneck.

“It’s potentially a positive problem, but a problem nonetheless.”

Considering the amount of investment being pledged by governments to stave off an economic downturn, TOMRA is unlikely to be the only METS company facing such a ‘positive problem’.

TOMRA XRT leaves its mark on Minsur San Rafael tin mine

TOMRA Sorting Mining says Peru’s Minsur SA has felt the benefit of its X-ray Transmission (XRT) sensor-based ore sorting technology, with its San Rafael tin mine having seen an increase in reserves, plant capacity, overall recoveries and mine life since it was introduced.

Part of the Breca Group of companies, Minsur owns and operates the largest underground tin mining operation in the world, San Rafael. Located in the Eastern Mountain chain of the Andes in Peru at an altitude of 4,500-5,200 m above sea level, the mine contributed about 6% of the total world production of tin in 2015, with about 1 Mt of ore at an average grade of 2.13% mined and processed, resulting in 20,000 t of tin concentrate.

That same year, Minsur initiated a number of activities to ensure the future value of its asset, addressing challenges that included declining head grades and rising operating costs, according to TOMRA.

One of these activities involved an ore sorting project.

Started in 2015, in collaboration with TOMRA Sorting Mining, the project’s objective was to reject low-grade material in coarse particle size.

“By separating sub-economic material before entering the more cost-intensive wet processing, the project would address the bottleneck at the wet section and improve productivity by increasing the feed grade,” TOMRA explained. An added benefit expected from the project would be the longer life of the mine.

Three main factors indicated that sensor-based particle sorting for waste rejection would be effective at San Rafael:

  • The high absorption of transmitting X-rays of tin contained in cassiterite;
  • The structures of cassiterite, which are large enough to be detected by XRT technology; and
  • The significant degree of liberation of sub-economic waste on the particle level that may be subject to sensor-based particle sorting.

In order to assess the feasibility of the project, TOMRA conducted metallurgical tests on geological samples from San Rafael, followed by performance test work. The tests showed the deposit to be amenable to XRT ore sorting due to the presence of 70-80% of uneconomic particles that can be rejected over a wide size range, from 6 to 70 mm, TOMRA said.

The project was approved and, in view of the significant economic potential, was fast tracked and completed in just 14 months. TOMRA and its partner in Peru, which supplied and installed the XRT sorting system, worked closely with Minsur throughout the six-month ramp-up period.

The ore sorting project with TOMRA’s XRT system has delivered significant financial benefits from the beginning, with Minsur realising payback on its capital expenditure in just four months, according to TOMRA. In 2017, the ore sorting project contributed around 36% of Minsur’s total production with about 6,000 t of tin concentrate, the company said.

The project has reduced capital and operating costs at San Rafael in a number of ways:

  • Added value – TOMRA’s XRT sensor-based ore sorting is converting uneconomic waste material into economic ore, as material below the cutoff for the main plant can be treated with lower operating costs and converted into reserves;
  • Increased plant capacity – The main plant capacity has gone from 2,950 t/d before implementation to 3,200 t/d today, as a result of the crushing operation at the XRT sorting plant;
  • Significant improvement in the overall recovery in the main plant – from 90.5% to 92.5%. This is due to sensor-based ore sorting rejecting particles with very fine mineralised cassiterite that is too small for detection by the XRT system, resulting in higher grade and size of mineralisation;
  • Extended life-of-mine – today, about 24% of the feed to the sensor-based ore sorting plant come from low grade ore from underground, which in the past would have been below the cutoff. This increase in reserves significantly extends the life of mine;
  • Elimination of liabilities through the treatment and proper disposal of 100% of the stockpile; and
  • Decreased tailings disposal due to the sensor-based ore sorting system reducing the amount of waste by increasing the grade in the feed to the plant.

TOMRA concluded on the San Rafael case study: “The success of the project has demonstrated the high potential of TOMRA’s XRT technology, and as a result, the company plans to include XRT sensor-based ore sorting as a possible process route in all future projects.”

TOMRA division reflects on 25 years of sensor-based sorting in mining

TOMRA’s sensor sorting systems are celebrating 25 years of operation in the mining space.

The past quarter of a century has seen high-value, high-quality recovery and innovation led by sustainability and record-breaking achievements, the company said.

TOMRA Sorting Mining’s history and success dates back to 1993 when Commodas applied its core sensor-based technology to a mining application.

The optical sorting solution was tested on an industrial scale to separate calcium carbonate (CaCo3) from other materials in order to recover higher values of CaCo3, which is an essential element used in everyday products, such as paper.

In this application, the sorting technology automatically removed grey and dark rocks from the bulk feed and achieved excellent results. This led to, in 1994, two large-scale machines featuring this technology being introduced to Hermsdorf (Erzgebirge), Germany. This installation successfully ran for eighteen years.

In 2006, Commodas joined the TOMRA Group forming part of TOMRA Sorting – a leading solution provider in mining, recycling and food industries.

“Today, TOMRA Sorting Mining equipment can be found in a variety of challenging environments and extreme climates around the world. Our combined strengths of expert industry knowledge, proprietary technology and qualified engineer support service significantly benefit our customers in this dynamic industry,” the company said.

“TOMRA Sorting Mining solutions have enabled the recovery of the world’s largest diamond in over 100 years, the world’s largest sorting plant with an 1,880 t/h feeder, the industry’s highest sorting plan at 4800 metres above sea level, many additional notable diamond recoveries and the Innovation Award of Peru.

During the 25th anniversary year, TOMRA Sorting Mining will introduce the new COM Series XRT 2.0 (pictured). Based on the successful XRT sorter, the new COM Series XRT 2.0 is a true evolution with industry-leading standards for robustness, throughput and availability, according to the company.