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WA Government to optimise ore tracking

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A new report from the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA) has addressed the challenge of undertaking material tracking in the mining value chain.

Specifically, the Physics Models for Ore Tracking in Surface Mines report looks at the parts of the mining value chain where physical processes change the bulk shape and mixing of large-scale material units, obscuring the original grade distribution.

The report found that current tracking technologies require regular intervention, can lead to unsafe work practices, and only provide data when sensors pass loggers.

“Manufacturing Intelligence, Fortescue, South32, Mining3 and CSIRO have been working collaboratively in parallel to a commercial software development program to identify the movement of material during parts of the mining operation where tracking is currently impossible and to create a commercial uptake of the research outcome,” the report said.

Findings from the report include how rapid approaches to material mixing across the mining value chain can be developed using algorithms to predict the mixing in the stages of blasting, dozer push, stockpile stacking and depletion, and how accurate GPS and dozer data is essential to identifying how material mixes during the transfer processes.

“Implementation of this software into mine systems will enable operations to plan blend strategies to improve the quality and efficiency of product delivery,” the report said.

“Being able to process an expected blend, at the correct time, will reduce costs, energy and carbon footprint. Reduction of waste sent to the plant will improve throughput providing increased profitability to mining operations.”

The proposal was originally submitted as a joint METS Ignited and MRIWA application. However, both company boards decided to split the proposals into two sections: commercial software development, which METS Ignited took care of, and physics research, which MRIWA submitted.

“The projects need to run in parallel to enable the software being developed to identify the movement of material during parts of the mining operation where tracking is currently impossible and to create a commercial uptake of the research outcome,” the report said.

The WA Government body undertook the project from 2019–2023. The MRIWA contributed $380,000 towards the research, and the project’s total grant value equalled to $760,000.

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