Automated sampling and analysis: The next step in mining efficiency

High demand for goods gives manufacturers and producers both the opportunity and the incentive to operate more efficiently, pragmatically and automatically, says Evident Scientific*. 

High prices come with shorter contracts with specifications that can change weekly. This gives miners and recyclers an additional challenge to streamline their operations. 

 Variable grades and fines elements mean that both mines and smelters must have accurate chemical analysis, low port-to-port bias and fast information that is as close to real-time performance to production as possible. Mine managers agree that improved data accuracy leads to better mining in the pit, optimized material mixing, reduced penalty elements and improved production, which translates to overall profitability. 

Most onsite labs are typically 4-5 hours behind production, often more when third party remote labs are used. This can cause delays of hours to days. Hand-collected samples may give a low representation of the material. Most sampling experts agree that many false bulk samples are due to sampling and less to technique. Automating this process and bringing the lab to the samples increases productivity, reduces bias and improves overall accuracy. 

 The most important thing here is not to tape the analyzer, but to tape the laboratory sample preparation technology. Many strip analysis methods attempt to measure the concentration on the strip and are faced with the variable nature of the materials on the strip, making it impossible to obtain a consistent enough reading for accurate analysis. 

 Automatic Zone Sampling System Solution 

A key component to solving this problem of inaccurate sampling and analysis is X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) technology, which can identify and determine mineral composition in seconds. Another necessary component of an effective zone sampling solution is an automated mechanism that collects and prepares samples from bulk mined materials such as coal, aluminum, titanium, iron, manganese, nickel and copper ores. Well-prepared samples are inserted into the XRF analyzer for fast, automated and accurate material analysis, eliminating moisture, mineral mixing, grain size and many other obstacles associated with straight-strip sampling. . 

Three-Step Automated Zone Analysis Process 

The following describes the step-by-step process for such an automated zone system when used on a mineral processing line. 

1.Automatic Collection of Excavated Materials The system automatically collects samples from the tape at intervals defined by the user. The mechanism is a cross-belt sampler that does not stop or slow down the belt. The sampling device can be adjusted to any conveyor belt and processed by the facility’s distribution control system and to facilitate operations. The collection process complies with the following standards: 

  • ISO 12743 (Cu, Pb, Zn, Ni);
  • ISO 13909, ISO-3082 (Fe);
  • ASTM E877 (chemical analysis); and
  • ASTM D7430.

2.Automated sample processing for XRF analysis of mined materials 

 Approximately 15 kg of collected samples are first crushed into 50 mm to 4.5 mm (crusher 1) and 4.5 mm to 200 µm (crusher 2) 500 g discs. To eliminate measurement error, the moisture content is taken and recorded. The samples are compressed and prepared for chemical analysis by XRF. The entire production process is automatically controlled and monitored. 

3.Real-time chemical analysis of mining raw material on belt

 Prepared samples are analyzed with a real-time XRF analyzer. The XRF analyzer chosen for this system includes a fast and highly accurate AI-inspired dynamic method that is flexible and capable of handling multiple matrices simultaneously. 

 It also has the following characteristics: 

  •  Excellent sensitivity to trace elements; 
  •  Quantification of up to 30 elements in one measurement; 
  •  Detection of critical elements up to 1 ppm; and 
  •  Analysis of light elements including magnesium, aluminum, silicon and sulfur. 
  •  Advantages of Deploying a Zone Automatic In-Line XRF Sampling System 
  •  Data Payment: Real-Time Analysis 

The internal XRF analyzer of this system enables real-time, automatic, continuous, fast and accurate laboratory quality measurements without delay. using advanced processing technology that enables higher calculation speed and quick results (99.97° accuracy). All inputs are transmitted directly to facility control systems. The high accuracy of bulk mined materials helps to make efficient decisions about mixing and sorting of materials. 

Profitability in Accuracy: Turnover Improvement 

There is a constant need for accurate results of mined ore passing through the conveyor belt to minimize fines. However, samples of different sizes can lead to inaccurate results that are not representative of the mined ore. A homogeneous subsample gives a better representation of the tested ore. The 

Automatic Belting System with XRF technology minimizes this bias by bringing laboratory results to the field using homogeneously prepared samples to achieve accurate inputs for better mine control: 

  •  Provides representative, unbiased samples; 
  •  Avoid inaccurate chemical results; 
  •  Zero effect on belt speed; 
  •  Quality control of ore quality; 
  •  Extortion money is not paid; and 
  •  Optimizing Profitability. 

Profitability in Asset Management: Crushing 

Grinding, as the most important mineral processing process, is essential for the concern to keep assets running continuously, limiting downtime and optimizing the life cycle of your investment. However, unexpected rock hardness can limit the life of the crusher. Real-time analysis combined with mechanical sampling can give you an accurate rock composition, helping you choose the right tool for the right rock to maximize return on investment and reduce maintenance costs. 

 On the mine processing, knowing the composition of the rock can help you adjust the priority of crushing based on the hardness of the incoming rock using an automatic XRF system in real time. Obtaining compositional results quickly can also improve your efficiency in compacting critical ore from embedded matrix materials.

Benefit of Knowledge: Improving the Blending and Processing Process

The processing process is the first step to a more concentrated ore blend. It is important to do this step correctly and, most importantly, to identify possible errors in order to act in time. Regular laboratory tests cannot be done because the results of the incoming main grades come too late to correct errors.
Real-time analysis can provide you with the right information at the right time to guide you through the ore processing. You will know almost immediately if you need to add an additional process to remove an elemental compound to get the concentrated mixture you are studying. Additionally, you can provide your geologist with hourly reports of ore grades.
In addition, the information can help you restore the intended concentration/quality – reduce waste and keep the mixture according to the customer’s request – and minimize the use of acids or other soluble compounds. All to control punitive elements and improve overall integration.

Profitability in Safety: Tailing Management

Waste production is an unavoidable process where all non-recyclable and uneconomic residues from mining processing can reach enormous proportions and become problematic if not properly managed. An automated tape sampling system can help with residue management by giving you real-time information on some high-level problem/sensitive elements (S, As, Pb, etc.). You can effectively manage your leftovers, as well as learn about better storage and use of by-products.


Automated tape sampling plus XRF means better profit

Any improvement can have a significant impact on an industry with many process and manufacturing challenges. Automated tape sampling and analysis can improve critical steps in your mining workflow and protect your profitability. Powered by XRF analysis technology, the
Automated Sampling System enables on-site laboratory testing and real-time data collection in industries where time can be critical. XRF technology provides precision even for some critical light elements and is safer and easier to use than other analytical options.

As the old saying goes, time is money, so implementing an automated sampling system that can reduce the mineral processing workflow by hours and possibly days can have a significant impact on the bottom line.

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