Copper sorting MRI on the market

AN ANALYSER developed by CSIRO that uses magnetic resonance to sort copper ore from waste has already picked up contracts with copper producers.
Copper sorting MRI on the market Copper sorting MRI on the market Copper sorting MRI on the market Copper sorting MRI on the market Copper sorting MRI on the market

The Nextore magnetic resonance analyser uses radio waves to sort ore from waste.

The magnetic resonance analyser is being commercialised through Nextore, a company created by RFC Ambrian, Advisian Digital and CSIRO.

Nextore CEO Chris Beal said it had already secured contracts to provide magnetic resonance analysers to three companies, including two top-tier producers, in the coming financial year.

However, he declined to name the companies.

"We are providing full ore sorting solutions, including technical and engineering advice to move from concept to site trials and final implementation," Beal said.

Nextore claims the productivity benefits could be more than double average ore grades once sorted - depending on the characteristics of the orebody of course.

It says it could represent as much as a 20% reduction in processing costs in some copper mines.

The analyser uses magnetic resonance to identify ore grade so large amounts of waste rock can be rejected before it enters the plant - reducing the amount of energy and water needed for processing.

It works by illuminating batches of ore with short pulses of radio waves. This magnetic resonance penetrates through copper ores particularly well, much like a medical MRI "sees" into human bodies and can rapidly detect the ore grade.

The technology can also be applied to gold and iron-bearing ores.

It has an advantage over other ore sorting analysers that can only go "skin deep" to detect mineral particles on the surface of the ore, thus producing less reliable results.

CSIRO research director Nick Cutmore said bringing the analyser to the market through Nextore opened up the opportunity to transform the global copper industry and reduce its environmental footprint.

"Nextore has identified 59 mature copper mine sites where the analyser could be applied to extend their life, capturing 35% of global copper production," he said.

"The solution could also enable undeveloped low grade mines to be brought into production so the economic benefits are huge."

In its first year Nextore will focus its efforts on the South American and Canadian markets.

Nextore follows in the footsteps of photon assay technology commercialiser Chrysos Corporation, another entity created by CSIRO and RFC Ambrian.

Indeed both Chrysos and Nextore have come from the same CSIRO research division that is focusing on different sensor technologies for use in mining.