Given rapidly shifting commodity prices, mining companies today face stiff barriers to remain profitable. Profit margins are thinner and more stringent environmental protection requirements present a growing need to optimize mining processes, while simultaneously reducing energy consumption and lowering the risk of over or under application of chemical reagents. Mining companies must make strategic process improvements to realize a return on investment through increased production volume and higher yield.
Critical mine planning and operating decisions require definitive information from mineralogical and metallurgical analysis of the ore composition. Operators use this information for pit geology mapping, dig plans, and ore processing decisions. In many mines, the overwhelming number of samples submitted for grade control assay (often hundreds per day) precludes a full suite of tests on each sample. When mine operators employ time-consuming and expensive technologies such as X-ray diffraction (XRD), QEMSCAN, wet-chemical or mechanical tests, they can typically analyze only a small subset of samples. To improve yield and keep up with the pace of production, it is critical to gather this information repeatedly and rapidly.
Near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy allows metallurgical and mineralogical analysis much more rapidly than conventional laboratory-based methods. It is a long established analytical technique for identification and quantitative analysis of the complex mineral composites present in various rocks. ASD’s advanced NIR technology measures samples in real-time, allowing accurate analysis of hundreds of samples per day. ASD’s NIR spectrometers, including the TerraSpec 4 Standard-Res mining analyzer and QualitySpec 7000 over-the-conveyor system also measure a wider range of mineralogical and metallurgical properties than other methods. also measure a wider range of mineralogical and metallurgical properties than other methods. Additionally they accept a wide range of sample feeds—from raw drill chips to metallurgical pulps—and require little to no sample preparation. ASD’s analyzers offer several key advantages to mine operations:
- Real-time sample analysis
- Non-contact, non destructive materials sampling
- Ability to simultaneously measure multiple constituents
- Real-time feedback that matches the pace of your production line
- Continuous feedforward or feedback data
- Easy integration with your site’s information and control systems
- Green technology—reduces energy consumption and chemistry waste
The near-infrared range is especially useful for determination of clays and clay-like minerals. These include physical properties that can either help or hinder the metals recovery process during mining operations. Data from NIR analysis can help when evaluating such critical parameters as crushing, grinding, throughput, permeability, reagent usage, and moisture addition. ASD’s NIR analyzers allow operators to measure key parameters in a rapid, cost-effective manner that doesn’t interfere with production.
- Abundances of iron (and other transition element) oxides and hydroxides
- Raw Earth Element (REE) minerals
- Acidity and Acid consumption
- Total swelling clays
- Detailed clay mineralogy
- Acid consumption
- Particle sizes