UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Deployment of XRF Sensors Underground : An Opportunity for Grade Monitoring or Bulk Ore Sorting in Cave Mines Cetin, Mahir Can; Klein, Bern; Li, Genzhuang; Futcher, William; Haest, Maarten; Welsh, Andrew


Ore grades are monitored regularly in cave mines through drawpoint sampling. Automating grade monitoring through deploying X-ray fluorescence (XRF) sensors on the buckets of production loaders has been proposed as an alternative approach to address the issues around the traditional practice of drawpoint sampling. Bucket-mounted sensors can also be employed for bulk ore sorting underground. This study is aimed at evaluating the deployment of XRF sensors on production loaders as an opportunity for grade monitoring or bulk ore sorting in caving operations. The mill feed grade prediction performances of the drawpoint sampling program and mine planning software were assessed for the Cadia East panel cave mine. The results showed that the drawpoint samples underestimated the mill feed quality during a 10-month investigation period. The cave portions with bulk ore sorting potential were linked to the extraction level layout to estimate the number of drawpoints where sensors could be situated for diverting ore and waste. Samples obtained from the mine were tested to evaluate the ability of a lab-scale proxy of a bucket-mounted XRF sensor system to measure copper and gold grades. R-squared values of 0.84 and 0.68 were achieved between the predicted and measured copper and gold grades of the samples, respectively. Sensor test results are promising in revealing the potential to utilize XRF sensors underground. Future test work is encouraged to further validate the applicability of XRF sensors in an underground mining environment.

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