Technology developed for detecting tools in magnetite stockpiles

Gap Explosive Ordnance Detection (Gap EOD) has developed the UltraTEM, a new technology that can detect buried metal in magnetite stockpiles.

Gap EOD director Dr Stephen Billings said one of the biggest problems for mining companies is removing ground engaging tools (GETs) or broken machinery from stockpiles. He added that failing to remove these items can cause damage to processing machinery, reduce production, and increase downtime.

“Repairing a crusher can cost up to $1 million every time it is damaged plus the knock-on cost of production delays,” Billings said.

“It’s particularly difficult to find GETs at a magnetite stockpile because this is what steel is made from.

“Most mines view this as an occupational hazard and those that have tried to locate the lost metals traditionally use a very tedious time consuming process with little success.”

UltraTEM is made of sensitive electrical receivers and high powered transmitters, enabling users to scan 2.5-3m of stockpile at a time, compared to traditional methods that scan 15cm.

It allows for ultra-high definition digital mapping with high efficiency and can distinguish closely spaced individual targets, provide accurate estimates of object position and depth, and produce auditable digital recordings of all data.

Billings said that the projected time to sift stock pile was six months but with UltraTEM, it can be conducted in six days.

Citic Pacific Mining (CPM) has tried a number of options to remove historical GETs from a five million tonne stockpile at its Sine Iron project in Western Australia’s Pilbara before using the UltraTEM, which yielded positive results.

“It’s a clean process, in and out and you’re not left with equipment you can’t use,” CPM geology manager David Mason said.

Billings added that the technology is also applicable for a wide variety of ore.