The Renison tin mine in Tasmania will now benefit from a new ore sorting technology just in time for the tin price to reach an all-time high.
Renison is owned by the equal joint venture Bluestone Mines Tasmania (BMTJV) formed between Metals X and China-based Yunnan Tin Group, and has a mining rate of almost one million tonnes per annum.
To cater to such a volume, material separation specialist TOMRA Mining has provided the mine with its XRT sensor-based sorting technology.
BMTJV principal project metallurgist Ben Wraith explained the motivation behind the upgrade.
“The Renison tin operation wanted to achieve economies of scale, putting more tonnes through the front end of the plant without upgrading the back end downstream – we wanted to do more with less,” Wraith said.
The two COM Tertiary XRT 1200 sorters now address the tin feed quality while acid-forming sulphides are also removed the waste with a COM Tertiary EM 1200 sorter.
TOMRA technical manager Gaven Rech said these units were well-suited to Renison’s application.
“Our XRT stands out for the high spatial and density resolution and its ability to do contrast sorting, identifying fine high-density tin inclusions in the ore with an accuracy that has no equal on the market,” Rech said.
Wraith explained the benefit for Renison from an operational perspective.
“Operating the sorting circuit has slightly increased our overall processing cost, but this is more than offset by the large increase in ROM (run of mine) throughput by 15 to 20 per cent, and thus tin production. So, the unit cost per ton of tin produced is reduced by almost 10 per cent,” Wraith said.
This upgrade came at a good time for the BMTJV, as the price of tin hit $US42,654 ($59,327) per tonne on the London Metals Exchange (LME).
This continued a meteoric rise over the past 21 months, after falling to below $US13,500 per tonne in March 2020.
The price of tin has now skyrocketed, driven by a shortage caused by demand in the electronics sector, but this year’s early spike isn’t expected to last for long.
The World Bank’s forecast from October expected the average annual tin price to drop from $US31,250 per tonne in 2021 to $US31,000 in 2022.