Tag Archives: XRF

COREM, Steinert ore sorting tests present opportunities for Cartier at Chimo gold project

Cartier Resources says ore sorting tests carried out by COREM and Steinert US on mineralised samples from the Chimo Mine property, in Quebec, Canada, have indicated gold grades could increase substantially with the use of the pre-concentration technology.

Gold from Chimo is present in two types of mineralised facies: i) quartz veins with coarse visible gold grains having an affinity for the gravity concentration of gold at the mill and ii) zones of silica-rich mafic rocks associated with non-refractory arsenopyrite having an affinity for the flotation of a concentrate of arsenopyrite for gold recovery at the mill.

To perform the sorting tests, rocks representative of the two mineralised facies, made up of the following six mineralogical facies, were first selected for static recognition of each of the facies by the sensors of the sorter:

  • Gold-bearing quartz veins;
  • Gold-bearing silica;
  • High grade gold-bearing arsenopyrite;
  • Medium grade gold-bearing arsenopyrite;
  • Low grade gold-bearing arsenopyrite; and
  • Mafic waste rock.

The detection sensors of the industrial sorter at COREM in Quebec, Canada, were the RGB camera using the optical properties of reflection, brightness and transparency to locate quartz and silica and the X-ray Transmission sensor using the volumetric property of atomic density to locate arsenopyrite. The two sensors adequately recognised the six mineralogical facies associated with the mineralisation, with dynamic calibration tests of the sorter with the moving conveyor making it possible to sort, one at a time, 2 kg samples of each of the facies, Cartier said.

The results of this first test at COREM showed the first three sorts (on a total of eight sorts) concentrated 99.1% of the gold contained in 44.4% by mass of material mass for a grade of 56.3 g/t Au, representing a percentage increase of 223% in gold content over sorter feed. The reject, representing 0.9% by mass of material, contained only 0.4 g/t Au.

The sorter was then ready to perform sorting tests on the 105.7 kg production sample, representative of the mineralised facies at an average grade of 2.16 g/t Au. This content was obtained by including 20% by mass of material with zero grade of gold, simulating dilution in the stopes. COREM’s sorting plan separated 53.9% by mass of the material in the form of a preconcentrate at an average grade of 3.68 g/t Au, representing an increase of 170% in the gold grade compared with the sorter feed. The waste disposal, separated from the mineralisation, represented 46.1% by mass of material at an average grade of 0.38 g/t Au.

Sorting tests carried out with Steinert in Kentucky using a Steinert KSS FLI XT machine with XRT, colour, laser, and induction sensors yielded comparable results.

A 80.69 kg production sample, representative of the mineralised facies at an average grade of 2.13 g/t Au, to which 20% by mass of material at zero grade of gold was added mathematically, representing the dilution in the workings, was used for testing. The new calculated diluted grade was 1.55 g/t Au.

Calculation of the results revealed that 51% by mass of the dilute grade material could be separated as a preconcentrate at an average grade of 2.72 g/t Au, representing a 175% increase in gold grade compared with the sorter feed. The waste disposal, which would be separated from the mineralisation, would represent 49% by mass of material at an average grade of 0.36 g/t Au.

Sorting tests with COREM were carried out following these tests to validate that the 20% of dilution material at zero grade of gold, mathematically added, could physically be effectively separated by the sorter, Cartier said.

The sorting tests carried out by both COREM and Steinert US were comparable, with these results providing prospects for increasing the value of the resources with ore sorting technology.

The objective of the industrial sorting of the mineralisation is to increase the grade of the preconcentrated material preceding the milling operations, which allows an increase in the recovery rate at the mill, reduces transport costs to the mill, reduces milling costs, reduces the costs of environmental restoration of mine tailings, and reduces the environmental footprint of mine tailings and, consequently, increases the social acceptability of the mining project, Cartier said.

The most recent resource estimate from Chimo included 6.6 Mt at an average grade of 3.21 g/t Au for a total of 684,000 oz of gold in the indicated category and 15.2 Mt at an average grade of 2.77 g/t Au for a total of 1.36 Moz of gold in the inferred category.

The Axora take on crushing and comminution

As we are continually told, comminution is one of the most energy intensive single steps in the resource extraction business.

One estimate is that it accounts for 36% of all the energy used in the extraction of copper and gold, which is only a shade over the 30% proposed as an average by another industry expert for all mining and mineral processing industries.

It also accounts for an estimated 3% of the global energy requirement for metal production.

These energy requirements are shocking from a sustainability and greenhouse gas emission perspective; they are also extremely costly regarding operating expenses on site.

It is with this in mind that IM touched base with Joe Carr, Industry Innovation Director of Mining at Axora.

A spinoff from the Boston Consulting Group, Axora has emerged as a business-to-business digital solutions marketplace and community for industrial innovators. It says it allows industrial companies to discover, buy and sell digital innovations and share knowledge in its community, powered by an advanced marketplace.

“We exist to transform industries to be digital, safer, more sustainable and efficient,” the company states on its website.

Having recently gone to press with the annual crushing and comminution feature (to be published in the IM April 2021 issue), IM spoke with Carr to find out what the Axora marketplace has to offer on the comminution and crushing front.

IM: What are the main issues/concerns you continuously hear from your mining clients when it comes to designing and maintaining comminution circuits? How many of these problems/issues can already be solved with existing technology/solutions?

JC: One of key issues in this area we hear from our customers at Axora is the blending quality of the input ores.

Joe Carr, Industry Innovation Director of Mining at Axora

This could be particularly relevant in the sulphide space, for instance.

I did some work years ago on Pueblo Viejo for Barrick. When I was there, one of the things we were working on was blending the sulphides as we were feeding the mill from numerous satellite pits with very different sulphide grades. Because we were processing the ore with an autoclave, high-grade sulphides would cause a temperature spike and the low-grade sulphides would lower the temperature. This constant yo-yoing of the feed into the autoclave was terrible for the recovery of metals against the plan.

Generally, the old school way of blending is setting up stockpiles of ore based on whatever variable you want to manage at your operation. You would put a defined amount of each into the primary crusher on the understanding this would create a ‘blended’ feed for the processing plant.

With the information we have at our fingertips today, this process seems outdated.

You could, for example, use HoloLens or another VR system in tandem with the shovel operator to be able to see exactly what material he or she is excavating. That can then be linked back to the geological block model, with this material then tracked in the trucks and onto the run of mine stockpile, before heading to the plant.

This is where something like Machine Max comes in. Machine Max is a bolt-on IoT sensor that tracks where your trucks are in real time – where they have been and where they are going. The processing piece requires block model integration into a mine plan system. If you have the building blocks in place – the networking, sensors, additional infrastructure, etc – Machine Max could, when integrated with this model, allow you to attempt real-time ore tracking.

“If you have the building blocks in place…Machine Max could, when integrated with this geological block model, allow you to attempt real-time ore tracking,” Joe Carr says

The issue is not that the technology doesn’t exist, but that the mining industry hasn’t yet cracked putting all of this together at an industry-wide scale, available to all miners.

You can carry out a project like this or go totally the other way and have a machine-learning or artificial intelligence algorithm in the plant that is constantly reading the incoming feed. These could be based around the block model inputs, or a digital XRF solution, which is able to constantly tweak or adjust the plant settings to the feed specifications. Process plants are generally setup to handle one type of feed. This is usually only tweaked in retrospect or for short periods of time when the mine plan moves into a different mining horizon.

We also have a comminution solution that understands the feed coming in and optimises the mill and power settings to get the optimal grind for flotation, maximising recovery at the back end. While the input is typically set up to be grind quality and hardness for optimal flotation, there is no reason why you couldn’t configure it for, say, sulphides going into an autoclave, tweaking the autoclave heat settings dependent on the feed.

Once that system is set up, it becomes a self-learning algorithm.

Saving operational costs is another pain point for mining companies we always hear about.

We have a solution on our marketplace from Opex Group, which is looking to optimise production while reducing power. Coming from the oil & gas space, this AI algorithm, X-PAS™, offers the operator an opportunity to adjust the settings while still achieving the same required outputs. This is tied to CO2 reduction, as well as power cost reductions.

Opex Group’s AI algorithm, X-PAS, offers the operator an opportunity to adjust the plant settings while still achieving the same required outputs

In mining, the plant is your largest drawer of power, hands down. Generally, if it is not powered on the grid, it is powered by diesel. Opex Group’s solution can save up to 10% of power, which is a significant amount of fuel and CO2.

The solution reads information from your pumps and motors, analyses the planned output of your plant using all the sensor feeds, and tweaks the variables while sustaining the required output. The algorithm slowly learns how you can change configurations to reduce power, while sustaining throughput. This results in lower power costs, without impacting the output.

Importantly, instead of automating the process, it offers the saving to the operator sat in the control room. Operators, in general, are incredibly reluctant to pass over control to an AI algorithm, but when faced with such power saving opportunities, they will often elect to accept such a change.

And, of course, plant maintenance is always on the agenda.

This is where Senseye, which has been used in the car industry by Nissan and the aluminium sector by Alcoa, is useful.

Essentially, this provides predictive maintenance analytics. It is also a no-risk solution with Senseye backed by an insurance guarantee. It is sold on the basis that if you do not earn your money back within the first 12 months, you get an insurance-backed refund.

There could also be openings in the plant for Razor Labs’ predictive maintenance solution, which is currently increasing the uptime of stackers, reclaimers and car dumpers for iron ore miners in the Pilbara.

IM: When it comes to future comminution equipment design, do you expect digitalisation, wear liner innovations, or equipment design to have more of a bearing on operational improvements at mine sites? Phrased another way; is more emphasis being given to refining and extending the life of existing products with digital technologies and wear solutions, than the design of brand-new equipment?

JC: We believe there is always going to be a focus on retrofit and extensions. Once a mill is built, changing the equipment, upgrading, etc is very hard and time consuming. The logistics of getting a new SAG mill to site, for example, are mind boggling. New technology will always come for new sites, but most of the world’s mining capacity is already in place. I would expect most digitalisation to focus on two areas:

  1. Getting more and longer life from all the assets. For example, extending liner life, reducing operating costs and shortening downtime between refits; and
  2. Drawing insights from the existing asset with a view to sweating it. No mill ever stays at nameplate; there is always an increase in production. One or two percent more throughput can put millions onto the bottom line of a company. No mill wants to be a bottleneck in the cycle. In a mine there are always two goals: the mine wants to produce as much ore as possible to put the pressure on the mill, and the mill wants to run as fast as possible to put pressure on the mine.

When it comes to extending liner life, we have a solution worth looking at.

One of the companies we work with out of Australia has an IIoT sensor all tied to wear and liner plates. It is a sensor that is embedded into a wear plate and wears at the same time as the wear plate itself wears. It provides this feedback in real time.

So, instead of the standard routine changeout, it gives you real-time knowledge of what it is happening to these wear parts.

We have a great case study from Glencore where they installed the sensors for around A$200,000 ($152,220) and it saved several million dollars. The payback period was just weeks.

Where I want to take it to the next level is pairing the wear plate monitoring technology on chutes and ore bins and looking into SAG mills and crushers. Relining your SAG mill or primary gyratory crusher is a massive job, which takes a lot of time and cuts your productivity and output by a huge amount. Wear plates are made as consumables, so if you can use 5% less over the space of a year, for instance, there are huge cost and sustainability benefits. You can also more accurately schedule in maintenance, as opposed to reacting to problems or sticking to a set routine.

IM: When compared with the rest of the mine site, how well ‘connected’ is the comminution line? For instance, are gyratory crushers regularly receiving particle size distribution info for the material about to be fed into it so they can ‘tailor’ their operations to the properties of the incoming feed?

JC: Generally, not really. The newer, better financed operations tend to have this. Taking the example above, when designing a plant flowsheet, the close side settings are used. But are they updated on the fly to optimise the plant? Not really. Most processes are designed with a set number of conditions to operate at their maximum.

Most plants dislike, and are not set up to handle, variation in their system, according to Carr

Most plants dislike, and are not set up to handle, variation in their system. They like consistent feed quality and grade to achieve maximum recoveries. Over the next few years, the companies that develop the best machine learning or AI models to run plants in a more real time, reactive way will see the biggest growth. A mill will always say it’s the mine that needs to be consistent, but the nature of geology means that you can never rely on this. As one geologist I knew said, “geology, she is a fickle mistress”.

IM: Where within the comminution section of the process flowsheet do you see most opportunity to achieve mining company sustainability and emission goals related to energy reductions, water use and emissions?

JC: In terms of emissions, at Axora we are actively looking at technology that can help across the entire plant. There was a great paper published in 2016 around this specific topic ‘Energy Consumption in Mining Comminution’ (J Jeswiet & A Szekeres). The authors found that the average mine used 21 kWh per tonne of ore processed. Given diesel produces 270 g per kWh, this means a plant produces 5.6 kg of CO2 per tonne of ore processed, on average. For a 90,000 t/day site, this might represent 510 t of CO2 per day (186,000 t/y), just for processing. To put that into context, you would need 9.3 million trees to offset that level of carbon.

If the industry is serious about lowering its carbon footprint, especially Scope 1 and 2 emissions, then the focus has to come into the process. There are easy wins available from proven solutions in other sectors for companies that want to take them.

Anglo American Platinum’s modernisation drive to continue into 2021

Anglo American Platinum says it is looking to deliver the next phase of value to its stakeholders after reporting record EBITDA for 2020 in the face of COVID-19-related disruption.

The miner, majority-owned by Anglo American, saw production drop 14% year-on-year in 2020 to 3.8 Moz (on a 100% basis) due to COVID-related stoppages. Despite this, a higher basket price for its platinum group metals saw EBITDA jump 39% to R41.6 billion ($2.8 billion) for the year.

As all its mines are now back to their full operating rates, the company was confident enough to state PGM metal in concentrate production should rise to 4.2-4.6 Moz in 2021.

Part of its pledge to deliver more value to stakeholders was related to turning 100% of its operations into fully modernised and mechanised mines by 2030. At the end of 2020, the company said 88% of its mines could be classified as fully modernised and mechanised.

There were some operational bright spots during 2020 the company flagged.

At Mogalakwena – very much the company’s flagship operation – Anglo Platinum said the South Africa mine continued its journey to deliver best-in-class performance through its P101 program.

Rope-shovel performance improved to 26 Mt in 2020, from 15 Mt in 2019, while drill penetration rates for big rigs increased from 15 m/h, to 16.7 m/h. Alongside this, the company said its Komatsu 930E truck fleet performance improved to 298 t/load in 2020, from 292 t/load in 2019.

These were contributing factors to concentrator recoveries increasing by two percentage points in 2020 over 2019.

During the next few years, the company has big plans to further improve Mogalakwena’s performance.

In 2020, the mine invested R500 million in operating and capital expenditure, which included commissioning a full-scale bulk ore sorting plant, coarse particle rejection project and development of the hydrogen-powered fuel-cell mining haul-truck (otherwise referred to as the FCEV haul truck).

First motion of the 291 t FCEV haul truck is still on track for the second half of 2021, with the company planning to roll out circa-40 such trucks from 2024.

Anglo Platinum said the bulk sorting plant (which includes a Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis and XRF sensor-based setup, pictured) campaign at the Mogalakwena operation is due to end this quarter.

The company’s hydraulic dry stacking project is only just getting started.

This project, which involves coarse gangue rejection before primary flotation for safer tailings storage facilities, is expected to see a construction start in the June quarter, followed by a campaign commencement and conclusion in the September quarter and December quarters, respectively.

On another of Anglo Platinum’s big technology breakthrough projects – coarse particle rejection for post primary milling rejection of coarse gangue before primary flotation – the company plans to start a campaign in the December quarter of this year and conclude said campaign by the end of the March quarter of 2022.

The company also has eyes on making progress underground at Mogalakwena, with a hard-rock cutting project to “increase stoping productivity and safety” set for Phase A early access works this year. This project is set to involve swarm robotics for autonomous, 24/7 self-learning underground mining, the company said.

Lastly, the company’s said the digital operational planning part of its VOXEL digital platform had gone live at Mogalakwena. VOXEL is expected to eventually connect assets, processes, and people in a new digital thread across the value chain to create a family of digital twins of the entire mining environment, the company says. Development is currently ongoing.

Looking back to 2020 performance at the Unki mine, in Zimbabwe, Anglo reflected on some more technology initiatives related to R26 million of expenditure for a digitalisation program. This included installing underground Wi-Fi infrastructure, as well as a fleet data management system to track analytics on primary production equipment. The company says these digital developments will enhance real-time data analysis, improve short-interval control and overall equipment effectiveness.

To step up mechanisation of its PGM operations at Amandelbult, Anglo American Platinum is also investing in innovation.

This includes in-stope safety technologies such as split panel layouts to allow buffer times between cycles, creating safer continuous operation and reduced employee exposure; improved roof support technology and new drilling technologies; a shift to emulsion blasting from throw blasting; and safety enhancements through fall of ground indicators, 2 t safety nets, LED lights, and winch proximity detection.

Meanwhile, at the company’s Mototolo/Der Brochen operations, it is working on developing the first lined tailings storage facility at Mareesburg in South Africa to ensure zero contamination of ground water. The three-phase approach adopted for construction of this facility will be completed this year.

CRC ORE simplifies complexity for value

“There are a lot more variables to bulk ore sorting than just the technology,” Jon Rutter says.

The Principal Geologist of the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE), Rutter knows his stuff. He has worked underground in both narrow-vein and mass-mining operations, as well as at large scale open-pit mines; in the base and precious metal arena.

During a presentation at International Mining Events’ IPCC Virtual event in early-February, he shared a slice of this knowledge while reviewing a recent installation project CRC ORE had been involved in at a platinum group element (PGE) operation.

“The intrinsic value of bulk ore sorting comes from the delivered heterogeneity,” Rutter said. “We have got to be able to sense and divert a higher-value pod of material versus an adjacent pod of lower-grade material on a conveyor.

“You essentially want to put more material into the mill that adds value – and not what destroys value.”

Looking at the wider bulk sorting opportunity in mining, Rutter explained the sensor diversion units (SDU) in bulk ore sorting were smaller than what the mine itself can typically offer in the form of a selective mining unit (SMU), which may be comprised of a dig block totalling around 15,000 t.

A truck offers a 100-300 t opportunity, while a shovel typically comes with a 50-100 t opportunity.

Even with a modest conveyor running at a 2,000 t/h rate, an on-board sensor (eg PGNAA or PFTNA) running at a 30 second integration time (the time to analyse one grade) would provide an SDU of 16.7 t. A sensor with lower integration time (eg XRF at 10 seconds) comes in at 5.6 t.

The ability to provide analysis down to this level has enticed several major companies into testing bulk ore sorting solutions.

Anglo American has trialled bulk ore sorting solutions at copper and platinum group metal mines, while BHP recently engaged CRC ORE to examine deployment of cutting-edge preconcentration techniques under its Grade Engineering® platform at the Olympic Dam mine, in South Australia.

The SDU with bulk sorting may be that much smaller than the SMU of a typical mine plan, but lab-level precision is not required for these solutions to work, according to Rutter.

“What I need is the ability to measure the metal content adequately,” he said. “When I say adequate, this incorporates the entire error bar of the system. That system includes the inherent geology, the mineralisation style and heterogeneity. We also need to consider the precision, accuracy and integration time – which is the technology constraint; but we also need to include the weightometers, the flop gates, the diversion gates, as well as that entire mining and materials handling process right from the start – from blasting, loading, hauling and dumping to the plant.

“But for bulk ore sorting what I end up requiring from this combined data is usually a binary decision: am I above or below a certain threshold?”

He expands on the bulk ore sorting (BOS) assessment process: “The other way of looking at this is simply considering it as planned ore loss and dilution. If we go back into that dig block, in that 15,000 t of material, I’ve already incorporated planned ore loss and dilution decisions or parameters into that SMU decision. So, if we look at bulk ore sorting, I am just talking about those different attributes – the error bars of a BOS system – as the inputs or parameters for BOS planned ore loss and dilution – it’s now just at a smaller and more precise opportunity.”

The company took a two-phase approach to the BOS opportunity at the PGE operation in question.

The first phase involved carrying out heterogeneity analysis of the orebody; correlation analysis of PGEs to base metals; selection of sensor technologies (XRF and PGNAA were selected in this case), design, layout and equipment selection for the bulk ore sorting plant; natural deportment analysis of the orebody; development of a preliminary business case; the ore type selection and sampling strategy; and project planning and management.

CRC ORE and the company in question settled on a solution where a Caterpillar 992 wheel loader dropped material off to a system using a combination of grizzly, feeder, sizer, conveyors, diverter, stackers and associated equipment from MMD, used in conjunction with an ore sensing system equipped with both PGNAA and XRF sensors to continuously measure the elemental composition. The PGNAA sensor provided a “penetrative” analysis calculation whereas XRF provided a “surface” sensing calculation, Rutter explained.

An incline conveyor ahead of the diverter gate and the accept/reject stream provided the 30 second integration time the PGNAA analyser required.

Phase two of the project involved online and offline (pre-install) work; sensor calibration; proving the technology; and proving the technology can drive physical separation.

Rutter said the completion of static calibration of the sensors saw the PGNAA sensor 20-30% calibrated, and the XRF sensor 70-80% calibrated.

This outcome harked back to Rutter’s assertion that “bulk ore sorting implementation is not a plug and play opportunity”.

A dynamic calibration in online mode completed under normal conditions was required to get the PGNAA sensor up to speed. This process, meanwhile, solidified the operation of the XRF sensor.

While the two sensors were calibrated in different ways, Rutter showed data that confirmed both were in unison when it came to reading the ore/waste that came through the conveyor (see right-hand graph below).

“The two sensors are independent of each other and fundamentally very different, but they can work well together, or separately,” he said.

CRC ORE was able to prove the technology by running the same sample through the circuit a number of times, as Rutter explained: “We fed 15-20 t of run of mine material into the hopper and repeated the process 15 times, putting the same 15-20 t sample through the system. We could then start to determine the precision and accuracy of the sensors and the system.”

For further verification, the sample was crushed, sub sampled and assayed.

“We wanted a binary response to ore and waste to build confidence,” Rutter added.

Phase three involved the ramp up to production scale, going from, say, 500 t/h to 1,000 t/h; carrying out validation by campaign; and finally integrating with the operation.

There were several lessons all mining companies – and bulk sorting vendors – should keep in mind from such a project, Rutter said.

Operations need to assess the impact of mixing across the entire materials and mining handling process as soon as possible, for one.

“The earlier we can put this data into the system, the better,” Rutter said. “Without a heterogeneity signature, we cannot implement bulk ore sorting.”

He also stressed the importance of timely feedback. Sensor calibration, a secondary crushing/sampling plant and assaying were all required to build confidence in the solution.

Rutter added: “The proper calibration of sensors does require a considerable and ongoing effort…but that is no different from any other process plant or equipment.”

Operators also need to be wary of where they set these solutions up in mines, recognising this heterogeneity dynamic.

“Bulk ore sorting is quite unlikely to be universally suited to the entire deposit,” Rutter said. “The analogue for this is a flotation plant; there are ore types in the mine where you achieve better performance in the flotation plant and others where you get worse performance.”

Hitachi XRF analysers to help Tanzanian Mining Commission with mineral verification process

Twenty four of Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science’s handheld X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) X-MET8000 Geo Expert analysers have been supplied to the Tanzanian Mining Commission, based in Dodoma, to help officials ensure correct analysis of minerals for value determination before they are exported

The delivery, through Hitachi High-Tech exclusive Africa distributor, United Scientific (Pty) Ltd, based in South Africa, will help the commission enfoce new measures for exporting minerals where mineral values need to be controlled and verified before they are exported out of the country.

Mining is one of the leading sectors in Tanzania and exports of minerals such as gold, silver, copper and nickel, are increasing each year as demand for these precious metals grows.

The 24 X-MET8000 Geo Experts bought by the Tanzanian Mining Commission will be used by the officials in the laboratory as well as in mineral and gem houses established throughout the country to verify local ore concentrations prior to export. They will also help to verify that correct value on clearing declaration documentation has been provided before minerals leave the country at various border posts.

Hitachi High-Tech’s instruments were chosen by the Tanzanian Mining Commission due to the robustness, reliability, cloud storage capabilities and flexible package options available for the X-MET8000 Expert Geo as well as the service form its local distributor, Hitachi says.

The package includes rare earth elements and precious metals methods to ensure full visibility. The X-MET8000 Expert Geo can analyse rare earth elements including Y, Sc, La, Ce, Pr and Nd in addition to other common elements explored from mines and soils, according to the company.

Jacques Le Roux, Managing Director of United Scientific South Africa, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Tanzanian Mining Commission and local inspectors. We look forward to continuing to build our strong partnership and work very closely together. Over the last three years, United Scientific and Hitachi have supplied record numbers of handheld instruments into the African market making us the leading handheld analyser provider in the region.”

Paul Bunting, VP Sales and Service EMEA, said: “The X-MET8000 Expert Geo offers excellent accuracy, speed and limits of detection in a rugged IP54 and MIL-STD-810G format that’s affordable. Our delivery of the 24 X-MET8000 handheld XRF analysers to the Tanzanian Mining Commission as a preferred vendor is yet another example of Hitachi helping businesses unlock the power of analysis and striving to increase social value.”

MineSense, Commerce Resources look at ore sorting options for Ashram REE project

Commerce Resources has started a test project initiative with MineSense as part of its ongoing collaboration with CanmetMINING.

The project with Commerce will include assessing the spectral response on 127 course analytical rejects from drill core, comprising five rock types associated with the Ashram rare earth and fluorspar deposit, in Quebec, Canada.

Of these 127 rejects, a total of 72 are from drill core within the Ashram deposit’s primary mineralised zone: the A-Zone. Based on the information collected, MineSense will be able to assess the laboratory-scale efficacy of its technology to the Ashram deposit material. If successful, a value contribution assessment may be completed as a follow up activity for the Ashram project.

MineSense specialises in digital technology solutions for ore-waste classification in real time at the mining stage (run of mine), thereby providing better grade control compared with that of the deposit block model or mine plan. It uses data analytics, combined with its trademarked ShovelSense and BeltSense technologies, to monitor mineralogical or grade changes in an orebody daily, as it is mined. This information allows for optimal ore blending, grade trend characterisation, and overall improved mine planning with resultant cost efficiencies.

The MineSense technology is based on X-ray Fluorescence sensors fitted to specific pieces of mining equipment to monitor the spectral response of the material being actively mined. The technology provides for a higher level of control compared with the typical ore sorting process which occurs at the truck scale in the process plant, Commerce says.

One of the standout deployments of ShovelSense is at Teck Resources’ Highland Valley Copper (HVC) operations in British Columbia.

The funding for the test work at Ashram is provided by Natural Resources Canada through CanmetMINING’s six-year rare earth element (REE) and chromite program (announced in April 2015), focused on developing new extraction technologies, addressing Canadian environmental challenges, and improving the knowledge of Canadian deposits, Commerce says. The company’s contribution to the collaboration is a supply of REE mineralised material from Ashram, in which several tonnes remain readily available from a bulk sample completed in 2012.

The Ashram deposit outcrops at surface, allowing for cost-effective collection of material for test work. As such, the company is actively engaging with various research and academic institutions to support the advancement of the rare earth element industry in Canada, and in Quebec specifically, it said.

The resource base at Ashram consists of 1.59 Mt of material averaging 1.77% total rare earth oxides (TREO) in the measured category, 27.67 Mt at 1.9% TREO in the indicated category and 219.8 Mt at 1.88% TREO in the inferred category. The preliminary economic assessment outlined a 4,000 t/d open-pit operation with a 0.19:1 (waste:ore) strip ratio over a 25-year mine life. Annual production averaged circa-16,850 t of REO over the life of mine.

Steinert to bolster sorting system test capacity in Pulheim

Steinert is to introduce additional sorting lines for mining and waste recycling at its new test and development centre in Pulheim, Germany, the company says.

The new lines are being installed in an effort to better achieve the company’s aspiration of “test before you buy”, allowing it to “respond with ever more accuracy to the sorting aims of extraction, purity and profitability for each sorting task”, Steinert said.

Steinert’s sorting solutions are used throughout the mining industry as a way of pre-concentrating material ahead of milling.

The metal sorting line of the new test and development centre will official go into operation on September 22. This milestone will be marked with a virtual event held on that day.

By opening the new building, the company is trebling its testing capacity, allowing it to be more flexible in responding to customer demands, it said.

“The processing sequence deployed in the sorting systems is the same as that used in a real industrial plant,” Peter Funke, CEO of the Steinert Group, said. “We are delighted that even more customers can try out our technology, from magnetic separators to sensor-based sorting systems, such as X-ray transmission, X-ray fluorescence and near-infrared (NIR),”

The research and development team is also moving to the same building in Pulheim, seven kilometres away from STEINERT’s headquarters in Cologne, allowing customers to derive even more benefits from the latest developments, the company said.

Olympus adds to handheld XRF range with Vanta Element-S

Olympus has added to its line of handheld X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysers for fast light element detection with the Vanta Element-S XRF instrument.

The new unit delivers fast light element detection at an affordable price, joining a family of cost-effective, entry-level Vanta Element XRF instruments, the company says.

The S model is equipped with a silicon drift detector (SDD) to analyse light elements like magnesium (Mg), aluminum (Al), silicon (Si), sulphur (S) and phosphorus (P) in alloys.

Ideal for precious metals, the Vanta Element-S effectively measures ferrous metals, aluminum, copper, stainless steel, nickel and gold carats, it said. “The analyser offers clear on-screen grade ID and comparison for the light elements Mg, Al and Si in seconds.”

For greater uptime and reliability, the analysers are IP54 rated to resist dust and moisture and built to pass a 1.2 m drop test (MIL-STD-810G). Other protective features include a stainless-steel faceplate and a Prolene® window with Kapton® mesh support that sticks on and peels off for toolless window changes in the field, the company said. The analysers, the company says, continuously perform in temperatures from -10°C to +45°C.

“Vanta Element-S analysers come with the essential features the Vanta™ series is known for: speed, reliability, ruggedness, connectivity and smartphone-like ease of use,” the company said. Weighing 1.32 kg, the analyser is up to the challenge of all-day testing for alloy and metal analysis. “Powered by Olympus’ proven Axon Technology™, the S model brings the same high-count rate and stability as the rest of the Vanta series for fast results and return on investment.”

Optional wireless connectivity, meanwhile, helps future-proof the analyser for Industry 4.0, the company says.

“Connect to the Olympus Scientific Cloud™ for wireless data sharing and access to convenient fleet management tools, as well as the Olympus mobile app or your network,” Olympus said. “The analyser also has a one GB microSD™ card to store results and two USB ports to easily export data. For added flexibility, the analyser is compatible with accessories like the Vanta field stand, soil foot, probe shield and holster.”

Olympus will be hosting a webinar titled, ‘Innovative applications of portable X-ray diffraction (pXRD) and X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) for base metals and gold exploration’ later this week. To find out more click here.

Bruker brings benchtop EDXRF into lab automation space

Among several new innovations Bruker has launched is a benchtop X-ray elemental analyser that, the company says, can speed up elemental analysis in mining applications and be integrated into automated laboratory environments.

Originally planned for a launch at the now delayed Analytica 2020, this week, Bruker has proceeded with an online launch of these new products.

The company says its next-generation benchtop energy dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) spectrometer, S2 PUMA™ Series 2, is equipped with HighSense™ technology for increases in throughput by about a factor of three times.

Bruker’s software, SPECTRA.ELEMENTS™, comes with enhanced features and faster algorithms, leading to circa-40% shorter evaluation times, the company said.

The S2 PUMA Series 2 supports elemental analysis applications from cement, steel, mining and petrochemical, to food analysis and pharma quality control, according to the company.

The benchtop EDXRF instrument is used for solid and liquid samples, prepared or bulk, for the elemental analysis from carbon to americium (C – Am), according to Bruker. “Detectable elemental concentrations in the samples can range from parts per million up to 100%,” it said.

Bruker continued: “The HighSense technology of the S2 PUMA Series 2 combines high-power (50 W), long-life-time X-ray tube with closely coupled optics and the HighSense detectors. The HighSense (for Na to Am) and HighSense LE detector (C-Am) are next generation silicon drift detectors with high count rates, superb energy resolution, and Peltier-cooling for shortest measurement times, excellent data quality and low operation costs

“The unique sample handling options of the S2 PUMA Series 2 make it the perfect fit for many applications in industry and research, where precise and accurate results must be delivered fast on an easy-to-operate instrument.”

Depending on sample type and desired throughput, the versions Single, XY Autochanger, Carousel, Automation, and Mapping-Stage are available, the company said.

And, according to Bruker, the S2 PUMA Series 2 Automation is the only benchtop EDXRF spectrometer ready for full integration into automated laboratory environments.

“The Mapping-Stage enables automated multi-spot analysis collected on small and large samples (up to 152 mm in diameter),” Bruker said.

De Beers diamond XRF technology optimises sorting at emerald mine

De Beers Group Technology has adapted one of its X-ray fluorescence (XRF) diamond sorting range of machines to create “a secure and efficient sorting solution for emeralds”, it says.

According to De Beers Group Technology head, Gordon Taylor, the company’s sorting technologies have been applied to a range of minerals apart from diamonds, and these include gemstones like rubies to lower value commodities like manganese and coal.

“We are always on the look-out for new applications for our sorting equipment, which also employ X-ray luminescence, X-ray transmission, laser, magnetics and ultra-violet technologies,” Taylor said.

“So, we were excited by the opportunity to collaborate with Magnum Mining and Exploration on their Gravelotte emerald project in Limpopo province.”

In its trial mining and processing phase, Gravelotte has been gathering data to confirm the historic grades previously recovered at the project. In operation for much of the 20th century, total recorded production from this area was estimated at nearly 113 Mct. It was reportedly the world’s largest emerald mine of its type in the 1960s, employing over 400 sorters, De Beers said.

General Manager of Operations at Gravelotte, Wessel Marais, said the traditional manual method of sorting carried an associated security risk and led to less than optimal recoveries.

“Various mechanical sorting options are available on the market today,” Marais said, “and Magnum approached De Beers Group Technology to determine whether their diamond sorting technology could be adapted to emerald sorting.”

He says testing of samples provided by Magnum came out with successful results.

“This led to Magnum leasing an XRF machine from De Beers Group Technology for the duration of our trial mining, and the results to date have been very encouraging,” he says. “With the machines now deployed in the operational environment, research and development work is continuing in conjunction with De Beers Group Technology to refine the process.”

Taylor noted that constructive collaboration with customers is often an important element in extending the application of De Beers Group Technology’s equipment.

“On this project, we were able to conduct some fundamental investigation on the properties of emeralds to guide us in developing the most effective solution,” he said.

The De Beers Group Technology emerald sorting machine can make a potentially significant contribution to the success of the Gravelotte operation, according to De Beers, with its high recoveries combined with excellent processing security. The project aims to reach a target of around 3 Mct/y as its initial production rate.

Before the run-of-mine material reaches the De Beers Group Technology XRF machine, it is crushed to -30 mm and put through a trommel screen for cleaning and further size reduction. After material containing emeralds is ejected from the material stream by the sorter, it is further sorted by hand and graded.

“De Beers Group Technology is constantly pushing the boundaries where our equipment can be applied and has had significant successes in non-diamond commodities. Whether removing the value product or the waste from the process stream, our sorting technologies can be the game-changer in the viability of many projects,” Taylor concluded.