X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysers are commonly used in minerals processing to monitor the elemental concentration of ore in slurry form. X-ray diffraction (XRD) is also used as a separate technique to perform mineralogical analysis. Current analysers are labour intensive requiring a skilled operator, are only capable of sampling small masses, are off-line, which results in assessment delays of up to days. There are no other analysers that monitor both elemental and mineralogical information simultaneously.
We have developed a new measurement system to enable real-time elemental and mineralogical analysis in a mineral beneficiation plant, called the Mineralogical and Elemental Analyser (MEA). MEA combines X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) technologies to enable elemental and mineralogical analysis at the same time. This enables plant operating conditions to be adjusted and optimised continuously in real-time, increasing recovery and reducing operating and maintenance costs. MEA is an automated system (less labour intensive) and measures the slurry stream directly with flow rates of 10-100L/min rather than measuring small samples, hence, increasing overall analysis accuracy by eliminating calibration drift.
We are looking to establish a collaboration to bring the technology to market and share the benefits with the collaborating parties. CSIRO seeks partners with intimate knowledge of minerals processing plants and advanced data analytics. Ideally, partners will have access to sites to trial MEA and have technologies or projects that may benefit from the data provided by MEA.
CSIRO can manufacture prototype analysers and provide the support to help demonstrate and establish the technology and is seeking a partner to manufacture the instruments and commercialise this technology.
MEA key features include:
- patented CSIRO technology combining XRD and XRF to extend suite of minerals/elements which can accessed in real-time
- combination of XRD and XRF which allows analysis of some minerals not accessible by XRD alone like some gold bearing minerals
- a mean particle size assessment derived from XRF measurements
- particle size corrected XRF eliminates need for recalibration due to grinding circuit changes
- integrated sensors that measure slurry temperature, tank weight and slurry level (gives access to solids loading), and diagnostic monitoring of internal components
- direct output to plant control PLC systems with an industry standard interface
- real-time results reported to the plant every 5-10 minutes
- easy access to all analytic and sensor data through database that is kept locally or in the cloud for further analysis or as input in advances analytical systems (e.g. machine learning).
The MEA can be applied to monitor and analyse mineral phase and elemental properties in real-time at key points in the processing chain:
- rougher feed
- cleaner feed
- scavenger tails
This opens the possibility to optimise mineral processing based on stream composition and maintain high plant efficiency. The MEA will provide significant data for enhanced process control and plant optimisation. Combining MEA data with other plant data, including data within the processing plant, upstream data, data from comminution or pre-comminution processes will provide information across the whole mining chain. Complex data analytics like machine learning will play a significant role in finding hidden correlations and may contribute to a pathway of global plant optimisation and automation.
- Real time X-ray diffraction measurement on slurry
- Particle size measurement using X-ray scattering
- Real time X-ray Fluorescence measurement corrected for slurry matrix and particle size
CSIRO Mineral Resources' Sensing and Sorting team consists of experienced physicists and engineers. The team has over two decades of experience in developing real-time sensors for mining and the security industry based on X-ray technologies. Recent achievements include founding Chrysos Corporation Ltd, a company to commercialise CSIRO developed ChrysosTM PhotonAssay technology to replace fire-assay, and partnership with Gekko Systems to commercialise CSIRO’s Online Gold Analyser.