The European Commission has granted EUR9.3 million to a three-year Horizon 2020 project coordinated by VTT called X-Mine, which is developing new sensor technologies for mining companies’ drill core analyses and for efficient sorting of precious minerals and metals in ore. The X-Mine project also promotes more efficient 3D modelling of mining companies’ mineral resources, and thus improved recovery of precious minerals. The project combines products developed by various sensor manufacturers with commercial ore dressing equipment and aims to achieve sensor fusion that allows rock with low levels of minerals to be separated from the ore. The project reached its midway point at the turn of the year and is progressing gradually to the piloting of both drill core analysers and ore dressing equipment at mines during the spring of 2019. Two drill core analysers were adopted at mines in Greece and Sweden towards the end of 2018, and members of the project consortium are currently testing new sensors for ore dressing equipment and designing ore dressing algorithms. The project consortium consists of 15 research partners and businesses from around the world.
The X-Mine project involves developing and piloting two prototypes. Mining companies extract material from the bedrock in order to analyse the location of the ore and the volume of minerals and to estimate their mineral resources. The project consortium is hoping to increase the efficiency of ore exploration by developing equipment that can be used to scan drill core samples on site using new, highly sensitive layered imaging technology based on X-ray fluorescence as well as composition analyses. Analysing and scanning drill core samples on site speeds up the evaluation of ore resources.
The project also expects to improve the operation of automated mineral selectivity systems at the extraction stage by establishing a sensor fusion technique that combines X-ray transmission scanning along a line of highly sensitive sensors developed in the course of the project, X-ray fluorescence technology and 3D vision technology with rapid analyses with the help of efficient algorithms. More efficient ore dressing increases resource efficiency and mining companies’ profitability while reducing the harmful environmental impacts of mining.