Centurion, South Africa — The use of sensor-based sorting as a step in pre-concentration and/or recovery, is an established practice for several modern mineral processing flowsheets. So why are miners missing out on their opportunities?

Annelize Fouchee 
Process Principal 

Are any of these five mindsets keeping you from realising the full potential of your mine?

The use of sensor-based sorting as a step in pre-concentration and/or recovery, is an established practice for several modern mineral processing flowsheets. This advanced separation technology offers benefits ranging from increased consistent diamond recovery... to the de-bottlenecking of milling, flotation or hydrometallurgical plants... to the reduction of mine-haulage costs... and a significant decrease in the required footprint of a fine tailings treatment facility.

With all these benefits of sensor-based sorting, why then are we not seeing this technology integrated on all processing plants?

Here are some of the top five “reasons” sensor-based sorting does not get implemented:

1. “We have already tested it”

Not all sensor-based sorters separate minerals based on the same characteristic. Colour refraction responses differ from laser and atomic density, fluorescence or infrared. Simply having a single technology evaluated (when your method is not based on sound experience with similar ore bodies) is a stab in the dark. The discriminating sensors available today are significantly more advanced than those of a decade ago in terms of detection limits, data interpretation and mechanical processing capacities. A re-evaluation of old test data can change the processing possibilities.

2.  “Let’s just send a random sample”

The changing mineralogy and coarse mineral liberation characteristics of the entire mineral resource needs to be evaluated. The identification of a representative sample needs to include material from a high, low and average feed expected.

3. “We need higher capacities”

Conventional bulk processing methods send entire feed streams to separation technologies. Often there is a specific size class within the feed which, when isolated correctly, can be sent to sorting technology for maximum value add.

4.  “Our plant design did not include it”

Feasibility studies are capital intensive and require hundreds of hours of engineering. Re-engineering and flowsheet changes are difficult to implement once detailed design is in an advanced stage. The more expensive exercise is building the sub-optimal plant and seeing your profit disappear in operational costs due to the sorters not being included.

5. “We want a simple plant”

Although sensor-based sorters are advanced technologies, they simplify mineral processing plants by reducing downstream chemical processing requirements or tailings treatment facilities. The recent addition of remote monitoring and assistance also adds to increased ease of operation.

Fortunately for their stakeholders, progressive producers world-wide are increasingly implementing sensor-based sorting in their mineral processing flows, and many are doing so early on in the plant design stage. Whether you’re establishing a plant from scratch or retrofitting sensor-based sorting into an existing operation to increase recovery rates, talk to the specialist process engineers of Stark Resources. Putting years of on-site expertise to work, we will design the most cost-effective way to integrate the appropriate sensor-based technologies for optimum results.

Innovation in mineral Processing - Smart. Simple. Fast.


Learn more about the process engineering involved in integrating sensor-based sorting:

Read more about the smart integrators of Stark: https://stark-resources.com/about-us/

Chat to Annelize Fouchee, Process Principal, Stark Resources

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