Tag Archives: TOMRA

Vast sees path forward at Manaila with help of TOMRA’s XRT ore sorting solution

Vast Resources says it is continuing to evaluate the recommencement of production at its Manaila polymetallic mine in Romania and, as part of this process, has been working with TOMRA to assess the suitability of X-ray Transmission (XRT) ore sorting technology to optimise the mine’s production profile.

The assessment has demonstrated, to date, that by installing an XRT machine at the plant to pre concentrate ore at the pit, the technology would be highly effective for three main reasons:

  • A reduction in transportation costs as improved mass reduction would significantly reduce the material being transported from the mine to the processing plant;
  • A reduction in processing costs due to reducing the throughput at the plant; and
  • Higher-grade product being delivered to the plant.

It is anticipated that processing and transportation costs could be reduced by up to 55%, according to Vast.

“This cost reduction could have a dramatic impact on the mine’s financial performance,” the company says.

Samples from both types of mineralisation at Manaila, massive sulphide and disseminated sulphide, were sent to the TOMRA Test Centre in Wedel, Germany, to ascertain improved mass reduction and grade upgrade potential. Both mineralisation types showed amenability to the XRT process with metal content recovery on the massive sulphides at 95.4% for copper, 93.6% for lead and 95.2% for zinc in 71% of the mass, the company explains. The disseminated sulphides returned a metal content recovery of 84.2% for copper, 67.2% for lead and 84.4% for zinc in 35% of the mass.

The combined results show that 93.1% of copper, 82.2% of lead and 92.4% of zinc metal could be recovered in 45% of the mass when mining the polymetallic ore on a ratio of three tonnes disseminated sulphide to one tonne of massive sulphide, being the typical historical ratio of mining at Manaila.

Andrew Prelea, Chief Executive Officer of the Vast Resources, says: “These results clearly underpin our view that Manaila is economically viable, and the management team are considering various mine plan scenarios of bringing Manaila back into production.”

The 138.6 ha Manaila-Carlibaba exploration licence contains a JORC 2012 compliant measured and indicated resource of 3.6 Mt at 0.93% Cu, 0.29% Pb, 0.63% Zn, 0.23 g/t Au and 24.9 g/t Ag with inferred resources of 1 Mt at 1.1% Cu, 0.4% Pb, 0.84% Zn, 0.24 g/t Au and 29.2 g/t Ag. Comprising the Manaila polymetallic mine (currently on care and maintenance) and the Carlibaba extension project, Vast intends to establish a larger mining and processing facility at Manaila-Carlibaba which would eliminate the need for costly road transport of mined ore to the existing processing facility located at Iacobeni, around 30 km away.

Preliminary studies by the company indicate the potential for a new open-pit mine to exploit mineral resources to a depth of some 125 m below surface, and to simultaneously develop a smaller higher-grade underground mine below the open-pit mineral resources.

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 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.

Vast Resources to leverage new equipment and XRT ore sorting at Baita Plai

Vast Resources has devised a new mechanised mine plan for its Baita Plai polymetallic mine in Romania that will see mining capacity increase by 65% and ore sorting employed to increase mill feed grades.

The new mine plan includes the acquisition of three LHDs (including at least one narrow-vein electric LHD), an Aramine face jumbo drill rig, two Resemin Muki 22 long hole drilling rigs and a TOMRA X-ray Transmission (XRT) ore sorter.

Execution risk is expected to be significantly reduced compared with the old labour-intensive plan through the employment of senior international staff; the use of increased mechanisation; and the fact that shortly, with the expediated development plan now possible through the new equipment, the mining areas will be in areas newly drilled by the company and not in less stable old mining areas, the company said.

The company, in co-operation with TOMRA Mining, has concluded an initial investigation on ore from Baita Plai as part of the development of the new mining and processing plan. The objective of the work was to determine the amenability of ore from Baita Plai to be pre-concentrated using TOMRA sensor-based sorting technologies to produce a high-grade pre-concentrate, pre-milling feed.

“The study showed a clear amenability for the ore to be separated using TOMRA’s advanced XRT technology to identify both massive mineralisations, as well as fine mineral inclusions, using its proprietary combination detection algorithms to produce a high-grade pre-concentrate and eliminate non-grade containing waste material,” the company said.

The XRT implementation and processing plant upgrades are set to be completed by December 2021, the company said, with mill feed grades expected to be concentrated by 1.25-1.75 times. This would see the sensor-based sorter shift 60% of tonnage into the accept stream for the mill and 40% into the reject stream, with a 92% yield in the accept tonnage.

The new mine plan presents a cost reduction of 21% in dollars per mined tonne with an operational efficiency of 63 tonnes per total employee costed (TEC) at steady state, versus the previous plan efficiency metric of 43 tonnes per TEC, Vast Resources said. It also sees mining capacity rise to 22,000 t/mth, from 13,300 t/mth.

Andrew Prelea, Chief Executive Officer of Vast Resources, said: “This is a robust and comprehensive mine plan which has been developed using rigorous technical parameters. On behalf of the board, I believe the plan set out to shareholders today represents a benchmark for us to deliver on over the coming years in tandem with our broader expansion plans at Baita Plai and across our wider portfolio.”

TOMRA boosts sensor-based ore sorting process with key updates

TOMRA Sorting Mining has introduced the TOMRA ACT user interface together with a new image processing pipeline and additional process data for TOMRA Insight, all of which will, the company says, enable improvements in the overall sorting process for greater productivity and profitability.

The new TOMRA ACT graphical user interface (UI) brings a fundamental change in the way customers interact with their machines, making it easy to control the work flow in their sorting process with simple, intuitive touch gestures and actions on the screen, according to the company.

The UI provides sorting information and real-time process data at a glance through easy-to-understand graphics. With this clear information, the operator can better monitor the sorting process and make fast adjustments at any time, the company claims. The quick feedback on machine performance and throughput enables them to optimise the process, maximising productivity and efficiency.

Ines Hartwig, TOMRA Product Manager

Ines Hartwig, TOMRA Product Manager, explained: “Throughout the development process of TOMRA ACT, we conducted many in-depth discussions with our customers to ensure we provided them with an interface that would improve the performance of their sorters, benefitting their business. We have been testing it with customers and the feedback has been very positive; in particular about the ease of use, even remotely, which facilitates controlling the process and adjusting settings.

“With the new interface, customers interact with their sorters in a much more intuitive way and they have better guidance on how to improve the overall handling of the sorters. As a result, they will be able to improve the productivity of their sorting plant and the profitability of their mining operation.”

TOMRA is introducing the new UI on all its current X-ray Transmission (XRT) sorters and is planning to extend it to other machines in its offering at a later stage. Upgrade packages to retrofit previous models of its XRT sorters will also become available.

The new Image Processing Pipeline, meanwhile, analyses the data sent by the sorter’s sensors and cameras. This solution provides TOMRA with even more flexibility to adjust and customise the image calculations according to the application and the customer’s specific requirements to achieve the best possible sorting results.

The enhanced image processing solution also collects detailed process data, such as information on particle size distribution of the feed, belt occupancy for insights on feed tonnages, or data relating to the health of the sorter. All these statistics are fed to TOMRA Insight, the cloud-based data platform, adding to the process information it has already received. TOMRA said: “This enables customers to improve the overall sorting process further, taking fast action when changes occur in upstream equipment or in the material’s composition. They are able to better monitor and control their processes, the feed material and the sorted fractions, improving their profitability.”

The new enhanced Image Processing Pipeline, and additional data fed to TOMRA Insight, have already been introduced on TOMRA XRT sorters and will in the future be extended to other products.

Metso Outotec on ore sorting’s potential ‘revolutionary change’

Metso Outotec stands out among the mining original equipment manufacturers for having publicly acknowledged ore sorting is on its radar.

The Outotec business had a relationship with TOMRA Sorting Solutions dating back to 2014 when the two companies signed an agreement that would see the particle sorting company supply Outotec-branded sorting solutions to the mining and metallurgical industry. Metso, meanwhile, has previously disclosed it was developing “breakthrough proprietary technology to address the demand of high throughput accurate sorting”.

Close to eight months after the two companies merged to become Metso Outotec, IM put some questions to Erwin Huber, Vice President, Crushing and Conveying Systems; David Di Sandro, Business Development Manager – Optimisation and Test Labs; and Rashmi Kasat, VP, Digital Technologies, Minerals, to find out the current state of play with ore sorting at the mineral processing major.

IM: Back in November at your Capital Markets Day, there was mention of ‘AI-powered Ore Sorting Solutions’ during a presentation. Can you expand on what this offering might include? What stage is it at in terms of commercialisation?

DDS: Ore sorting is one of the most exciting recent developments in our industry. With improvements in sensor capabilities and adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), this may well become the revolutionary change this industry needs to sustain itself in the face of diminishing grades and orebody quality.

EH: With our ore sorting solution development, we are targeting the ability to deliver complete offerings of hardware and sensor-fusion platforms as it relates to both bulk and particle ore sorting. These platforms would utilise AI to optimise the feed material for the downstream process. Metso Outotec is uniquely positioned to understand and optimise that plant feed stream with deep knowledge and almost complete technology coverage in both the concentrator and tailings processing areas.

We plan to bring new solutions to the market in the short term and continuously launch new technologies to increase capabilities and capacities when the developments are mature enough.

IM: Will these solutions leverage existing tools within the Metso Outotec product offering? Will they make use of existing agreements with other companies (for instance, the agreement with TOMRA that Outotec previously had in place)?

EH: Metso Outotec carries out its own development of these solutions, and some partnerships are part of it once sensoring and analysing different minerals and elements are not possible with a single or only a few technologies. Mining and concentration are becoming more and more a digital world where breakthrough innovation is finding its space towards efficiency and sustainable possibilities. Smart systems will enable improved equipment uptime, efficiency and remote diagnosis of process and maintenance, and will be the bonding element between our traditional offering portfolio and new technologies.

IM: Previously Metso has talked about the development of a bulk sorting solution: do these ‘AI-powered Ore Sorting Solutions’ fit into that category, or are they more particle sorting solutions?

EH: Bulk ore sorting enables material selection at high throughput flows and particle technology is limited by capacity while bringing the benefit of high accuracy on selectivity.

RK: Bulk sorting is in its early stages in industry and no single sensor can determine minerals content across all ore types and mine sites. This is where AI algorithms play a significant role in ‘self-learning’ ore characteristics, mine site by mine site. It also provides great opportunities to do sensor fusion and more accurately determine the minerals content based on outputs from various sensors and sensor types. AI augments our expert’s tacit knowledge and provides a more reliable way over time to analyse big data generated from online mineral analysis.

IM: Where in the flowsheet do you envisage these solutions going?

EH: The earlier we can remove the gangue from the flow stream, the better our energy efficiency will be by reducing the volume of waste material that is processed by downstream equipment. Deposits in advanced development allow for in-pit backfill bulk ore sorters that may be deployed behind mobile in-pit crushers, or before the coarse ore stockpile where backfilling is not an option. There are several pre-concentration technologies that can be applied at each stage of mineral processing and the ideal operation should combine those tools to remove the liberated gangue at multiple stages of the processing plant in order to achieve the most sustainable process (ie bulk/particle ore sorting, selective breakage, coarse flotation).

IM: Will the benefits of your solution be felt beyond the crushing and grinding stage? Do you intend to use the data generated from the ore sorting solutions to benefit the whole downstream flowsheet?

DDS: One of the benefits of ore sorting is more efficient removal of waste from the process feed. Under certain circumstances, this also means removal of deleterious material which otherwise would adversely affect downstream process performance such as flotation recoveries. In these cases, the downstream benefits are intrinsic. The key would be understanding the geometallurgical mapping of all rock types and their mineralogy, so a philosophy of ‘include or reject’ can be applied on a metallurgical response basis. This mapping can be improved with SmartTag™ and GeoMetso™ technologies from Metso Outotec.

EH: The ability to sort, the geometallurgical mapping and metallurgical response obviously feed back into the block model and allow for more options in the mine plan and life of mine resource recovery, for example with the deployment of low-grade stockpiles. This further enhances the sustainability of the mining operation.

IM: Is the market ready for and receptive to such a powerful ore sorting solution?

DDS: As we all know, for good reason, our industry is full of early adopters rather than innovators. Most operations will need to see the technology succeed elsewhere before increasing their uptake of the technology. The initial implementation will likely occur in partnership with customers whose operations need this technology to be economically viable.

EH: The key is to understand the ore variability through the deposit and through the life of mine. Adopting ore sorting as an integrated processing step does not differ that much from testing and sizing flotation circuits, where small changes in ore properties can affect the overall recovery. It is important to understand these changes and how to react to them during operations.

The confidence level in sensor-based ore sorting testing will grow over time. We already see real-life examples where customers report on ore reserves based on lower cutoff grades due to ore sorting.

IM: Anything else to add?

EH: Despite the fact that the concept of ore sorting, and the sensors required to detect the valuable ore from the waste, have existed for several years, if not decades, the implementation of these systems in full-scale operations have been relatively restricted to particular cases with the right kind of orebody to make the process viable. Implementing ore sorting more broadly remains the challenge and requires the dual application of the right sensors working effectively with the right mechanical handling systems to detect and remove the waste stream efficiently and accurately. The skills required to solve these challenges are not just for the traditional mining and mineral processing engineers, but need to include a cross-disciplinary team addressing the issues from all angles.

This Q&A interview was carried out as part of the IM March 2021 annual ore sorting feature, to be published early next month

Hochschild’s Inmaculada set for ore sorting pilot plant

Hochschild says it has approved a $7 million budget to construct an ore sorting pilot plant at its Inmaculada gold mine in Peru in 2021.

The investment follows previous test work carried out with both TOMRA and Steinert. This saw the company conduct initial bulk testing in Germany with both companies and a 20-t pilot scale test with Steinert in Brazil.

The company also enlisted the help of Ausenco to carry out a prefeasibility study on applying ore sorting at Inmaculada.

In the company’s 2019 preliminary results presentation back in February, Ramón Barúa, Hochschild Mining Chief Financial Officer, said ore sorting could prove particularly useful at the Millet and Divina veins at Inmaculada.

He said, in addition to consulting with TOMRA, Steinert and Ausenco, the company had been working in-house to improve the sensors and the algorithm that separates the ore from the waste in these sorters, with the technology showing a clean separation between the quartz-based mineralisation and the andesite holding the rock at Inmaculada.

In its latest financial year results released today, Hochschild said of the ore sorting investment: “We believe this project may eventually deliver significant improvements in recoveries at the mine and potentially help to optimise other key projects in Hochschild’s portfolio.”

For 2020, the company recorded overall production of 289,293 oz of gold-equivalent at an all-in sustaining cost of $1,098/oz of gold equivalent. Inmaculada remained the cornerstone of the company, producing 176,086 oz of gold-equivalent.

Peel Mining’s South Cobar preliminary flowsheet to factor in ore sorting

Peel Mining says positive results from ore sorting test work at the Southern Nights and Mallee Bull deposits, part of its 100%-owned South Cobar Project, in western New South Wales, Australia, provide encouragement for the inclusion of this pre-concentration technology into future process plant design.

So encouraged by this testing is Peel that it has engaged GR Engineering to integrate ore sorting technology into an updated processing plant technical report for the project.

At the same time as this, Peel announced that GR Engineering had recently completed a preliminary process plant technical report for South Cobar that considers crushing, grinding, gravity, flotation and cyanidation process stages for the recovery of gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc from the various mineralisation styles within Peel’s deposits.

Meanwhile, the recently received positive preliminary ore sorting test work results from work undertaken on diamond drilling samples shows there is potential for improvements in the flowsheet.

The ore sorting test work, completed in conjunction with ongoing metallurgical studies, was undertaken by Steinert and TOMRA.

Steinert ’s test work on Southern Nights mineralisation demonstrated strong recovery and upgrade potential with two size range samples returning, on average, circa-93% Zn, circa-91% Pb, circa-91% Ag, circa-87% Cu and circa-82% Au recoveries to an average of circa-54% of the feed mass (circa-46% of feed mass rejection) increasing the lead and zinc grades by 61% and 64%, respectively.

TOMRA’s test work on Mallee Bull mineralisation achieved significant waste mass reductions while maintaining very high copper recoveries (≥95% for the higher-grade breccia copper and massive sulphide copper samples), the company said. A lower grade breccia copper sample upgraded from 0.59% Cu to 1.05% Cu with 77% Cu recovery and 56% mass rejection, it noted.

“Positive results from ore sorting at Southern Nights and Mallee Bull deposits provide encouragement for the inclusion of this pre-concentration technology into future process plant design and, as a result, Peel has engaged GR Engineering to integrate ore sorting technology into an updated processing plant technical report,” the company said.

Peel’s Executive Director of Mining, Jim Simpson, said: “The completion of the processing plant technical report by mineral processing solutions experts GR Engineering is a critical first step in understanding the potential composition of the milling infrastructure required for the company’s development plans.

“The detail presented in the report by GR is impressive and the report will form the basis for ongoing preliminary studies for the refinement and improvement of the processing plant design as new information comes to hand.

“We are also very pleased with the potential of ore sorting as part of any future South Cobar project hub’s processing route with initial test work pointing to the amenability of both Southern Nights and Mallee Bull mineralisation to separation using 3D-XRT ore-sorting technology, allowing for the simultaneous rejection of barren or waste material whilst retaining the bulk of contained metal, and in the process, upgrading the value of the ore.”

Simpson added: “Apart from reducing the overall feed mass by the rejection of waste at early stage, other benefits of ore sorting include potentially upgrading lower-grade mineralisation and reducing the size of the processing plant offering potentially reduced capital, power, water and tailings storage needs.”

Lucara recovers second plus-300 ct diamond of 2021 at Karowe mine

Lucara Diamond Corp has announced another recovery of significance from its 100% owned Karowe Mine, in Botswana, with its TOMRA X-ray Transmission (XRT) sensor-based ore sorting units, again, helping the miner recover and keep the diamond intact.

A magnificent unbroken Type IIa 378 ct gem quality top white diamond was recently recovered from milling of ore sourced from the M/PK(S) unit of the South Lobe, Lucara reported. This recovery is the second plus-300 ct gem quality diamond to be recovered this year from direct milling of the M/PK(S) unit, a further testament to the strong resource and process circuit performance at Karowe, the company said.

Both the 378 ct and the 341 ct diamonds recovered this year came from the Coarse XRT circuit, Lucara said.

Eira Thomas, Lucara’s CEO, said: “The 378 ct joins a rare and special lineage of exceptional, high value diamonds recovered at Karowe and continues to highlight the wonderful diamond potential of Botswana. Continued and consistent recovery of large diamonds, such as the 378 ct and 341 ct stones, comes at a critical time and provides continued strength and additional foundation to the opportunity to finance and build the underground expansion at Karowe that will see mining continue for at least another 13 years after the open pit ceases operations in 2026.

“We look forward to a safe, productive and busy 2021.”

A 2019 feasibility study looking at a combined open pit and underground future at Karowe showed the company could double the mine life of the operation for $514 million in pre-production capital by developing an underground deposit.