While particle sorting is a well established ore upgrading technology, it is commonly evaluated in isolation. The Hub is developing techniques that incorporates screening to improve the economic viability of particle sorting technology
Preparation for particle sorting via screening is a mandatory preparation requirement.
This initiative evaluates the integration of screening and particle sorting technologies to maximise the effectiveness of Grade Engineering® as a means of improving feed grade.
Maximising the economic recovery of metals
The initial application for particle sorting was industrial waste recycling and food processing. It was its use in these industries that drove initial sensor technology development. It was subsequently modified and adapted for application to the minerals processing industry.
Several key features of particle sorting include
- Requirement to pre-screen material into specific size fractions
- Mechanical or air jet ejection of selected particles
- Inability to incorporate or sort the fines fraction
- Small or modest throughput rates (generally low 100’s of tonnes/hr)
- Commonly senses via proxy attributes rather than metal/element directly
Many applications involve individual air jet or mechanical ejection of many sensed particles on conveyors or in falling streams. Scaling and adapting existing sorting equipment for the bulk mining industry has so far failed to generate widespread uptake, though this is changing as new technology has evolved in recent years.
What commonly fails to be evaluated is the integral and essential process of screening in the evaluation. Pre screening for particle sorting is a mandatory preparation stage as the particle sorting technology cannot analyse and separate the fine fractions or coarse fractions of a rock mass.
Hence it is essential to critically assess where metal is deporting to in the pre-screening process, to evaluate which portion (if any) of the rock mass is suitable for particle sorting. An additional aspect to be considered is the “conditioning” of the rock mass by blasting or crushing to enhance the opportunity.
This pre-screening and testing process assists in determining how much metal can be recovered in either the fines or coarse component of the entire rock mass via screening, an optimal screen size to maximise this economic benefit, and which mass reduced portion of the screening product can be subsequently processed via particle sorting to maximise the economic recovery of the metals.
Integrated evaluation process
- Analysis method whereby the economic value of ore upgrading via the mandatory screening process can evaluated.
- Evaluation of a targeted and optimised particle sorting opportunity.
- Ability to increase particle sorting throughput by optimising particle size.
- Techno-economic assessment of integrated screening and ore sorting economics in the operational environment.
The Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mining Innovation Hub.
Furthering industry-led technology development in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mining Innovation Hub early supporters include