Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

MINERAL EYE Report Summary

Project ID: 673303

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MINERAL EYE (Real-time on-line mineralogical analysis for the process optimization and more sustainable mining)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2015-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Mining represents a major proportion of the world economy. Mineral and metal resources are the foundation for our lives and lifestyles, and mining is still the primary method of their extraction. The sustainability in mining industry can be increased only through more intelligent, efficient and optimized processes that use reduced amount of energy, water and chemicals, and cause reduced amount of waste during different mining stages. Material flows in mining sector are huge. Globally, it is produced 8 billion tons of ore and 14 billion tons of waste rock every year. About 70-80 % of mine energy consumption is used for transport, crushing and grinding – 2/3 of that in vain for non-valuable rock transportation, crushing and grinding. Even a small improvement in mining selectivity can achieve significant reduction to energy and water use and prevent waste formation.

Raw minerals’ chemical and mineralogical compositions vary significantly. This is one of the main challenges for the optimized mining processes since the composition of the raw materials is very unpredictable. By better, real time mineralogical determination, the mining can be done more selectively, reducing amount of transported and ground side rock and reducing the energy need in the same ratio. Also, the chemical and consumable consumption is decreased.

In this Phase 1 feasibility study, we have evaluated the need and business potential for our MINERAL EYE solution in the mining industry and looked in more detail the different market sectors based on the general mining value chain, i.e. exploration – quarrying – mining – concentrating - refining and recycling. The results clearly showed that the biggest need and the greatest impact would come from the on-line measurement solutions in the different quarrying and mining stages and after that in the different concentration steps.

The suggested new MINERAL EYE product platform can provide the essential mineralogical information real time and without sampling or sample pretreatment. The developed platform can be applied to mining processes to monitor the mineralogical changes from the drilling phase to the end product quality. The obtained mineralogical information e.g. during drilling process helps mining companies to avoid the transportation of ground side rocks and therefore enhance the substantial reduction to the energy consumption of transportation, crushing and grinding stages, and consequently also to reduce the CO2 emissions of the industry.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Raw minerals’ chemical and mineralogical compositions vary significantly. This is one of the main challenges for the optimized mining processes since the composition of the raw materials is very unpredictable. The objectives of this feasibility study were to verify the (1) feasibility and (2) business potential of mining sector to fast and affordable on-line mineralogical analysis technology based on timegated Raman spectroscopic technology. The main objectives of this Phase 1 have been:
• To identify the potential customers, partners and other key players in this field
• To identify the customer need in more detail and to make the value proposition
• To specify the user requirements and to do the first draft of instrument specification and R&D plan for Phase 2
• To update the IPR strategy and to do a ‘freedom to operate analysis’ for mining sector
• To make the financial projections and analyze the economic viability of the case

During the Phase 1, over 100 interviews of mining stakeholders were executed including major and junior mining companies, metal and mineral mines, exploration companies, service providers, automation and instrumentation companies, analytical instrument provides, software providers, national geological survey centers and universities. Also, 5 on-site mine visits were done and several laboratory test measurements with real mining samples were performed. Moreover, the brief market literature survey was completed as well as a more detailed patent search to confirm the freedom to operate. Finally, the business potential for our innovation was estimated through the estimated revenues, profits and job creation.

The more detailed analysis of the results form these interview showed that mineralogical information is vital at the all stages of mining, from exploration to end product quality analysis and even in recycling stage. To evaluate the need and business potential for our solution in the mining industry, we looked in more detail the different market sectors based on the general mining value chain, i.e. exploration – quarrying – mining – concentrating - refining and recycling. For each stage, we determined end users/customers, what type of instrument would be needed, sample type to be analyzed, purpose of analysis, buying driver for our solution and potential market size.

The common feature for all the above mentioned mining segments is that, they all require very robust technological solution which can stand in the severe mining conditions, i.e. immunity to varying temperatures, they have resistance to vibrations, immunity to dust, spatter and dirt, require minimum of maintenance and has a long life-time. Big difference to industrial end-user requirements and Timegate’s current academic customers is that all industrial customers require spectral data processing to be solved, i.e. the end user will require mineral identification result or concentration value or the trend/change in concentration values, not the Raman spectra data. This will mean an extensive additional work for the algorithm development, spectral database collection and calibration modeling.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

To sum up the results of the market survey and the current mineralogical analysis tools offering, it is clear that the biggest need and the greatest impact would come from the on-line measurement solutions in the quarrying/mining stage and after that in the different ore processing steps. All the available offerings in this field are constructed on the sampling based solutions and lab analyses that do not give adequate speed for the process control purposes. Therefore, we believe that our on-line measurement solution will bring great benefits to many different processes in mining facilities.

During the quarrying / mining stage, there basically does not exist any solutions in the market place to monitor on-line the mineralogy of the processed rock materials. Globally, 8 billion tons of ore and 14 billion tons of waste rock are produced every year and approximately 70-80 % of mine energy consumption is used for transport, crushing and grinding of rock . This means that 2/3 of that transportation, crushing and grinding has been done in vain - for waste rock transportation, crushing and grinding. By better mineralogical determination, especially during the quarrying or mining stage, would reduce the amount of transported and grounded non-valuable rock material reducing the energy need in the same ratio.

During concentration and downstream processing stages, companies must optimize their throughput and prevent waste with minimal operational costs. Determining the concentration and properties of ore and precious metals prior to chemical treatment is important for optimal efficiency of the extraction process. Knowledge of ore properties, such as acid consumption, is vital for maximizing heap leach operations, while determining the presence and the amount of problem gangue minerals (such as talc and hornblende) allows the flotation process to be improved. It was been estimated that 1% increase or decrease of dilution or ore loss has an average annual value of €1-5 millions in a medium-size mine. The process shutdowns are typically caused by the unexpected changes in the raw material properties and ore quality. The cost of unexpected processing breaks, shutdowns or disruptions can be 0.5-3 millions per day in a medium size mines depending on the production quantities and the value of the produced product.

Related information

Record Number: 186552 / Last updated on: 2016-07-13