Case Studies

MineSense is the pre-eminent developer of sensor-based bulk sorting solutions for large scale, low grade base- and previous metal mines. While competition in the low volume, high value sector, and low measurement rate applications such as core logging, down-hole and cross-belt analysis does exist, no other company presently offers a viable real time ore recovery or waste rejection solution for mines of this type. Comprising shovel-based applications already at scale operating in tandem with scalable belt-based application, the MineSense Solution applies to a number of use cases across a number of commodities. The case studies described here encompass three of the most representative and valuable applications of the MineSense Solution, however, additional use cases in other commodities do also pertain. Please contact info@minesense.com should you desire an assessment of your particular application.

Bulk Sorting of Nickel Laterite Ores

Bulk Sorting of Nickel Laterite Ores

Economics of exploiting nickel laterite deposits can be challenging. Limonitic deposits are treated at high cost by hydrometallurgical routes; saprolitic deposits are treated at high cost by smelting direct shipped ore. However, the geology of deposits is often too complicated to support simple process routes and upgrading is required. Previously piloted at a customer site, MineSense bulk belt-based sorting solutions combine with size classification stages to increase the rejection of undesirable fractions while maximizing recovery of ferronickel. Impacts to the project were reduced operating cost, increased ore extraction and increased nickel recovery to ferronickel measured in the Billions of dollars.

Waste Dump Recovery using SortOre Technology

Waste Dump Recovery using SortOre Technology

Mine waste dumps ideally contain no metal value, however a lack of precision in grade control and ore routing strategies means a significant amount of economic value can be trapped in mine waste dumps. Such value often becomes a liability over time as sulphur associated with metal values can acidify and potentially leach into groundwater. MineSense technologies can retreat dump material at low cost, recovering residual metal values while returning remediated waste material to proper long term storage. Value is created in 3 ways: confirmation of dump content and therefore value; recovery of residual metal value for profit; and, conversion of the associated dump liability which at typically a dollar per tonne can be in the Millions of dollars per dump. Recent pilots of the MineSense Solution at a customer’s mine site demonstrated our ability to recover value and return remediated material to the waste pile. There are potentially thousands of dumps in Canada and worldwide, ranging from hundreds of thousands to millions of tonnes each, either in the custody of provincial and federal authorities, sequestrated companies and even active mining companies, all of whom could benefit from this solution.

Bulk sorting in-pit at an Opencast Copper Mine using ShovelSense

Bulk sorting in-pit at an Opencast Copper Mine using ShovelSense

The majority of operating copper mines are marginal in today’s current price/cost environment. A key area of inefficiency adding to this challenge lies in current grade control and ore routing processes, which are not only imprecise, but can be inaccurate up to 30% of the time according to customer analysis. This lack of precision & accuracy, particularly when mines are transitioning from oxide ore zones to sulphide ore zones, can be fatal to the economics of mining. Metal is not only lost from oxide material delivered to the sulphide circuit, but is also lost from the affected sulphide material as well. Deployed at such mines, ShovelSense technology adds value by increasing accuracy and resolution in the key area of grade control and ore routing, recognizing and extracting ore grade material from waste blocks, recognizing and rejecting waste grade material from ore blocks, as well as correctly classifying and dispatching different ore types e.g. oxide vs. sulphide from within the same block. Now in Phase 2 of customer-funded field trials at an operating 65,000 tpd open pit copper mine, this technology correctly applied can potentially add $520M to the Net Present Value over the life of mine. Ultimately, ShovelSense solutions integrated with a SortOre bulk sorting product deployed at similar scale, create value at customer operations measured in the Billions of dollars.