Suitability of On-Belt Elemental Analysis for Real-Time Ore Quality Measurement and Bulk Sorting

Henry Kurth

49th Annual Conference of Metallurgists, Vancouver, Canada, August 27-30, 2017.


Real time analysis of conveyed bulk materials can be used to improve process performance by reducing variability, and upgrading ore quality through selective removal of increments of flow that do not meet appropriate selection criteria. This paper focuses on proven prompt gamma neutron activation analysis (PGNAA) and microwave transmission technologies used to representatively measure conveyed ore quality in real time, so that meaningful decisions can be made between the mine and mill. This enables the effective removal by bulk diversion of small increments of conveyed flow such as waste, highly deleterious material, or sub-economic material from the mill feed. Improved ore quality in plant feed optimizes process performance, reduces processing costs, and minimizes tailings generation. Analysis is unaffected by particle size, dust, layering, segregation, mineralogy, or belt speed. Technologies are explained and performance examples given from installations in copper, zinc-lead, and iron ore. The technology has been used successfully in bulk sorting for more than 20 years, typically using measured increments of a few minutes. Improvements in technology and calibration performance have resulted in accurate measurements over increments of 30 seconds and below.


CEEC acknowledges and thanks the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), the Metallury and Materials Society (MetSoc) and organising committee for organising the COM 2017 Conference of Metallurgists hosting World Gold and Nickel-Cobalt.

Abstracts can be found at the CIM website (

Full papers published in the Conference Proceedings will be available on, and CEEC directs readers to to access and purchase published papers.