Understanding ore heterogeneity and effective bulk ore sorting using PGNAA/PFTNA

Noble, Ferguson

Presented at the Preconcentration Digital Conference November 2020

ABSTRACT

The mining industry is facing economic pressures to treat more challenging and lower grade ore types, as well as pressure relating to environmental impact and social license to operate. Preconcentration through bulk ore sorting has the potential to benefit all these areas by enabling mining operations to divert material of low economic value prior to processing, thereby achieving higher feed grades and recovery, while reducing the processing plant and tailings dam footprint and capital required throughout the life of mine.

The effectiveness of bulk ore sorting depends on the heterogeneity of material at the measurement location, as well as the accuracy and precision of the measurement. An understanding of ore heterogeneity can be assessed using drill core data, which provides metre by metre elemental assays.

This paper reviews such data and assesses the grade distributions over different scales, which suggests that sufficient heterogeneity exists at mining scales to allow the potential for bulk ore sorting. Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis (PGNAA) technology has proven to be a successful measurement technique within many industries, including mining. PGNAA was first developed in the early 1980’s for the measurement of the elemental composition of bulk materials on a conveyor belt. Today, Pulsed Fast Thermal Neutron Activation (PFTNA) technology is also applied in elemental analysis of bulk materials and has some advantages for bulk ore sorting. In order to enable effective bulk ore sorting, however, a PGNAA/PFTNA analyser must be designed to provide a representative bulk ore analysis with the necessary accuracy and precision. Examples are presented to provide an understanding of the factors affecting PGNAA/PFTNA performance in relation to effective bulk ore sorting.

Keywords

Heterogeneity, Ore, Sorting, PGNAA, PFTNA

AUTHORS

G Noble1and S Ferguson2

1. Applications Specialist - PGNAA, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Adelaide Airport SA 5950. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2. MAusIMM, Senior Global Applications Specialist - Minerals, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Adelaide Airport SA 5950. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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