Wednesday 18th Jul, 2018

CSIRO pushes MRI for mining to copper market

Photo: CSIRO
Photo: CSIRO

CSIRO has paired with the private sector to release a machine it says can help miners quickly sort waste ore from higher grade ores using magnetic resonance technology.

The analyser uses MRI technology to rapidly identify ore grade so that large volumes of waste rock can be rejected before even entering the plant, thus reducing the amount of energy and water a minerals processor needs to use to extract product from mined ore.

When they pass through the analyser, batches of ore are hit with short pulses of radio waves. The level of penetration made by magnetic resonance through the ore can help determine its grade.

CSIRO believes the machine, if applied properly, can help some copper mines save as much as 20% on processing costs.

The independent, government-funded research body has formed the company NextOre with its partners RFC Ambrian and Advisian Digital, to supply the new ore sorting analyser to the international copper market.

“Bringing the analyser to market through NextOre opens up the opportunity to transform the global copper industry and reduce its environmental footprint,” CSIRO research director Nick Cutmore said.

NextOre has identified 59 mature copper mine sites – covering 35% of global copper production – where it believes the analyser could be used to extend mine life.

“The solution could also enable undeveloped, low grade mines to be brought into production, so the economic benefits are huge,” Cutmore added.

Over the next year, NextOre says it will focus its efforts on engaging copper producers in South America and Canada.

“Contracts have been secured to provide magnetic resonance analysers to three companies, including two top-tier producers, in the coming financial year,” NextOre chief executive Chris Beal said.

“We are providing full ore sorting solutions, including technical and engineering advice, to move from concept to site trials and final implementation.”

NextOre says the analyser can also be applied to gold and iron-bearing ores.