First Quantum’s Kansanshi copper mine enabled by NextOre.

The world’s highest capacity ore sorting plant at First Quantum’s Kansanshi copper mine enabled by NextOre.

Ore sorting has been spoken about by many as the ‘Holy Grail’ of a mining industry facing up to the challenge of extracting minerals from ore bodies with ever declining grade profiles, but technology breakthroughs in the mining industry have been few and far between and often fall short of early promise.

Transportation, crushing and processing of increasing volumes of ore is expensive and energy intensive. Clearly processing material that costs more than the value contained within it isn’t good for margins or the planet but practically it hasn’t been easy to avoid.

So, the ability to pre-concentrate ore by removing gangue materials prior to processing, with the potential to significantly reduce energy consumption, processing and transport costs, water and reagent use makes inherent sense. Good for margins and the planet.

There are a number of sensor-based technologies available that are applicable for various mining operations but nearly all are constrained by lengthy sensing times, can only run at relatively low capacity and therefore have limited scope to be used on large mines where ore sorting can have the most impact.

There is an answer. NextOre’s* magnetic resonance technology is different.

NextOre was originally formed in 2017 as a joint venture between CSIRO, RFC Ambrian and Worley, with its MR technology representing a leap forward in mineral sensing that provides accurate, whole-of-sample grade measurements.

Two weeks ago, on RFC Ambrian’s “Copper Pathway to 2030 Webinar”, NextOre CEO Chris Beal announced the installation and full commissioning of Kansanshi copper mine’s ore sorting system enabled by NextOre’s sensing technology. Operating at 2,800 tph, that’s somewhere around 16Mt pa, this is now the highest capacity ore sorting plant in the world.

As Chris said “Magnetic resonance technology, in particular, is very well suited to high throughput grade measurement, it is measuring all of the material that is going through. We hope to go larger from here and we, in fact, have projects ongoing to do that.”

NextOre have a number of other magnetic resonance sensing products in the pipeline suitable for different types of mining operation, both at higher capacity than the installation at Kansanshi and at the lower end. A new mobile bulk ore sorting plant with a 400tph capacity has now been put to use at Aeris Resources’ Murrawombie mine in New South Wales, Australia and one of the most exciting new developments is a sensor that measures the grade in the material on the back of a truck as it drives underneath.

NextOre’s milestone follows on from the recent ASX listing of another RFC Ambrian technology company, Chrysos Corporation. Its disruptive PhotonAssay technology is rapidly superseding fire assays as the preferred assay methodology and puts RFC Ambrian at the forefront of the commercialisation and introduction of new disruptive mining technologies that are game changing for the mining industry whilst also lowering the environmental footprint.

You can now view International Mining’s article on NextOre’s progress in Zambia here.

Charlie Cryer

Head of RFC Ambrian London

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