Potential and limitations for sensor-based particle sorting of gold ores – experiences on sensor-based particle sorting piloted for SAG pebbles

Robben, Kobzev

Presented at the Preconcentration Digital Conference November 2020


Sensor-based particle sorting of gold ores is the masterclass of preconcentration. The technical challenges of a grade in ppm scale makes a direct detection with currently available technology in milliseconds impossible. Consequently, the detection and classification of particles into ore and waste classes relies on detectable proxies which are the foundation for the classification. These must be reliable and repeatable across the ore bodies processed in future. A sensor-based particle ore sorting equipment must therefore be calibrated systematically by understanding the gold deportation in different lithological groups. Also, it must be in best operational state to minimise possible misplacement. The technical challenges are met by a stringent financial regime governing the business case.

Many gold ore sorting projects require a stable grade of gold in the rejected waste significantly below 1gr/t. Two examples are introduced in this paper:

  • The pilot results and operational experience of X-ray transmission (XRT)-based particle ore sorting for pebble sorting of sulphide associated ore;
  • Laser-based particle ore sorting for pebble circuit of an orogenic, quartz associated gold ore.

Usually, sensor-based particle sorters are installed in the crushing section of a plant. However, for large capacity plants, the number of equipment required, and the associated material handling costs result in significant capital and operating expenses for plants with 1200tph run-of-mine capacity. As a conclusion, it was decided to investigate sensor-based particle ore sorting applied to the pebble stream of two existing semi autogenous mills.


C Robben1 and A Kobzev 2

1. Managing Director, Six-S, Hamburg, Germany. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2. Chief Mineral Processing Manager, Russian Mining Chemical Company, Moscow, Russia. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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