Enabling mass separation

Integration of operational strategies and engineering solutions to effect coarse separation in the dig and deliver interface. Projects focus on ensuring that approaches are optimised for net value.

This includes advanced blasting design and fragmentation controls; bench scale down hole and top of hole sensors; screening for grade by size conditioned run of mine material; and on-line sensors for coarse material flows at shovel, truck and conveyor belt scales.

The aim is to generate new higher-grade feed streams through physical removal of low value components at coarse (10-1000 mm) particle size distributions after blasting and primary crushing.

The ultimate aim is to undertake coarse separation in-pit as part of dynamic short-term mine planning. This involves design of radical in pit crushing and separation equipment that can also improve digging and loading efficiencies.


Project snapshot
P2-001: Sensors for rock mass characterisation

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P2-002: Blast design optimisation for Grade Engineering

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P2-003: Orebody DNA

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P2-004: LIBS analysis for Geo-sensing

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P2-005: Simulation of Grade Engineering mining processes

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Research milestones


Sorting sml


Program 2 aims to implement and optimise coarse separation as an integral part of mass mining to enable Grade Engineering. This involves deployment and validation of new and improved coarse separation technologies including blast conditioning; screening, sensing and gravity; and integrating this into efficient equipment utilisation. The aim is to maintain the cost benefits of high volume material movement while introducing an emphasis on active manipulation of payload quality.

Several important technical and commercial barriers must be overcome to achieve these aims. The three main challenges are:

  1. Validation of suitable sensors for deployment on conveyor belts, capable of informing reliable grade-based separation decisions and defining the resulting value proposition for specific operations and ore types.
  2. Modification/redesign of current IPCC systems to accommodate bulk screening and sensor-based separation of feed streams to create a new value proposition. This will involve close integration with Program 3 to simulate and optimise design of new In-Pit Crushing and Separation (IPCS) systems.
  3. Blasting is a key energy-efficient material conditioning process to drive coarse separation and Grade Engineering outcomes. Potential benefits of differential blast design were demonstrated in the first term of CRC ORE, but site deployment and validation is necessary to support routine adoption.

Addressing these challenges requires close collaboration with METS companies and end-users to exploit, integrate and in many cases modify existing systems for new purpose.



sandvik in pit modified graphic


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