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Measuring and Utilising Ore Quality Variability Using Real-time On-belt Elemental Analysis to Improve Mill Feed Quality


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Author H Kurth


The focus of this paper is on measuring the composition to improve mill feed quality to minimise the processing of waste, optimise process performance, reduce processing costs and minimise the generation of tailings.

Technologies used since the 1990s in the cement and coal industries for measuring conveyed materials have been operationally proven and effectively derisked. Despite this the acceptance by the minerals industry has been very slow except in iron ore. Real-time penetrative full stream measurement using prompt gamma neutron activation analysis (PGNAA) for multielemental analysis and microwave transmission for real-time moisture analysis provide representative, tonnage weighted dry weight per cent results on a minute by minute basis. Analysis is unaffected by particle size, dust, layering/segregation, mineralogy and belt speed. The technologies are explained and performance examples given.

The benefits derived from real-time compositional analysis are predicated upon a good understanding of deposit geology, mineralogical associations, waste to ore interfaces, amenability to mining, metallurgical processes and downstream customer requirements. Processing may include basic preparation in the case of direct shipping ores, minor beneficiation using simple upgrading methods, or concentration using more complex processing systems such as flotation, leaching or many others.

The value of real-time data from primary crushed conveyed flows, using analysis of increments smaller than a single haul truck’s load, is very beneficial in process plants aiming to reduce waste processing, increasing feed grades and increasing metal recoveries. Grade variability can be utilised to divert conveyed increments of waste, direct shipping ore (DSO) quality material bypassing beneficiation, and subeconomic material amenable to upgrading diverted for further preconcentration by particle separation (sorting, heavy medium etc). Paybacks of a few months have been commonly achieved where the real-time technologies have been applied in the minerals sector. The paper outlines proven applications and case studies and proposes some innovative applications.


Kurth, H, 2016. Measuring and Utilising Ore Quality Variability Using Real-time On-belt Elemental Analysis to Improve Mill Feed Quality, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2016, pp 239–244 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).