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Measuring ore quality using real-time on-belt elemental analysis – more than grade control


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Author H Kurth


Mining geologists utilise many technologies to map, sample, measure, model and plan before and during the mining process. Predicted ore quality rarely corresponds with feed quality determined by process operators. Objectively measuring conveyed material quality accurately in real time avoids disagreements over mined ore quality and generates opportunities to improve mill feed quality.

This paper discusses the well proven PGNAA (prompt gamma neutron activation analysis) technology used in the GEOSCAN-M elemental analyser that is ideally suited to measuring composition of primary crushed conveyed material in real time. Representative, continuous, fully penetrative measurements are unaffected by particle size, belt speed, mineralogy, dust or layering on the conveyor. Material can be directed to processes or stockpiles by utilising measurement increments of typically one to five minutes and then activating diverters to direct increments to the correct location. Waste, low-grade or deleterious material can be rejected to waste dumps or stockpiled for later processing. Material meeting a product specification can bypass unnecessary processing. Paybacks in weeks have been achieved for such applications. Process operators are able to control the blend of ores fed into the mill to improve processing performance and use measurements for ore reconciliation and metal accounting. Utilising the technology to upgrade ore quality after mining and before processing is beneficial in improving plant economics.

The technology has been successfully utilised in base metals, ferrous metals and industrial minerals. Mining geologists can determine ore quality being produced in real time and modify the ore quality prior to milling. Ore feed quality measurements are also used by process operators in optimising plant performance. The elemental content can help identify geometallurgical domains as well as other major changes in quality, which may affect processing. This paper outlines proven applications and case studies and proposes some innovative applications.


Kurth, H, 2017. Measuring ore quality using real-time on-belt elemental analysis – more than grade control, in Proceedings Tenth International Mining Geology Conference 2017, pp 213–220 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).