Freeport-McMoRan Chino feels the ‘value add’ from MineSense ShovelSense installation
February 27, 2024
Freeport-McMoRan Chino feels the ‘value add’ from MineSense ShovelSense installation
February 27, 2024

Sensing an opportunity
Daniel Gleeson on 27th February 2024

“Sensor-based analysis and sorting solutions are becoming even more powerful thanks to the incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI), data science and new sensor
technology, Dan Gleeson reports

Without heterogeneity there is no pre-concentration or ore sorting business case. This fact should remain front and centre for any mining company or consultant evaluating
potential technologies to carry our pre-concentration or ore sorting at mine sites, realising that value generation is not a foregone conclusion. All solutions on the market prey on such heterogeneity, with specific sensors suited to certain metals and materials. Data-backed analysis leveraging decades of metallurgical knowledge is changing things, however, allowing the detection of metals and minerals via proxies – further opening the field.

IM reviews some of the most widely considered business cases for pre-concentration and ore sorting in its annual review.

MineSense on untapped potential

MineSense has been making progress on several sensing, analysis and sorting fronts over the last 12 months, yet for Jeff More, President and CEO, the core power of its offering remains in the pit with its XRF-based ShovelSense® units. ShovelSense uses X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) based sensing technology that is mounted directly to digging equipment such as wheel loaders and shovels to, MineSense says, accurately characterise and grade with each bucket, and differentiate between low-, mediumand high-grade mineralised material.

“What started as a way of making diversion decisions in the pit based on grade with ShovelSense has evolved into an offering that provides new datasets focused on downstream operations, particularly in the flotation circuit,” More told IM. “ShovelSense remains our killer product – and it continues to increase metal production through in-pit sorting – but we are moving progressively towards a more holistic offering powered by ShovelSense.”

Called Mine to Mill Powered by ShovelSense, this offering assists geologists in the pit with grade-based information, as well as provides the likes of porphyry or skarn mineralization categorisation for stockpiles of material metallurgists can act on. It is doing this through a combination of ShovelSense and the conveyorbased BeltSense®, the databank and machinelearning algorithms MineSense has built up with almost 25 installations across the globe, and the MineSense Data Portal – which enables access to real-time data generated by these units at critical points in the ore processing value chain.

“The datasets we now have, the algorithms we are creating and the well-established proxies or associations that the mining industry relies on are allowing us to go beyond what we initially thought was possible,” More said.

For example, the company has been working on an entry into the spectral sorting space over the last 18-24 months, with plans to deploy a hyper-spectral imaging (HSI) unit across both BeltSense and ShovelSense for the generation of ‘non-grade’ characteristic data. This was predicated on offering up information that could be used to add value in the process plant. More explained: “Grindability is one of the non-grade characteristic areas we were looking at HSI for in terms of potential correlations, but
we’re now at the point with our XRF-based systems where we have some interesting data on grindability with our current system that could be used to predict this.”

The company’s R&D teams continue to expand its spectral advances at the same time as the Mine to Mill Powered by ShovelSense population is growing. The offering was initially demonstrated at MineSense’s long-term customer site, Copper Mountain, in British Columbia, which involved multiple ShovelSense installations on excavators
(in-pit), wheel loaders (stockpile) and conveyors. The second site to take on this full offering has been confirmed as Collahuasi, in northern Chile,one of the largest copper mines in the world.

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