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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The application of Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy sensor system for real time ore classification Cordova Torres, Rodrigo Fernando


Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) is a geoanalytical tool capable of identifying elements, and measuring element concentrations and the composition of rock samples. LIBS is a method based on a laser energy pulse that creates an ablation in the surface of a rock sample and the ionization of photons to produce a breakdown of the sample’s elemental composition. The ionization process can be captured to produce a spectrum that contains information about elemental composition. The wavelength is used to identify elements, and its intensity peaks are used to identify the concentrations of the element. The mining production cycle involves such processes as rock support, drilling, blasting, loading, hauling, dumping, reclamation and ventilation, depending on the mining method. Although pre-sorting, pre-concentration and classification techniques have been applied to aspects of mineral processing after the mining cycle, this research proposes the use of LIBS in the mining cycle, and defines the basic capabilities of a sensor with potential applications in the drilling and loading cycle, particularly with respect to shovels, drills and belt conveyors. The purpose of LIBS is not to provide an accurate measurement of the target mineral, which in this research is Copper ore, but responses from different elements that can be mineralogically and statistically related to obtain a predicted concentration of the target mineral. In this paper, the methodologies and the foundations of LIBS have been developed as a sensor and proxy to an ore sorting system for the real-time in situ classification of rock material. The research is based on samples from the Escondida Mine located in the north of Chile. The samples are divided into groups of Oxides and Sulphides. The results reveal the ability to predict Oxides, Sulphides and the discrimination of Oxide and Sulphide ores. The prediction regarding the target ores is obtained by comparing the LIBS data to Certified Analysis with ICP techniques. The results include models for the prediction of Cu content for Oxides and Sulphide ore types by LIBS analysis, as well as the discrimination of Oxide ores from Sulphide ores using this technology.

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