X-ray analysis for greener and more… – Information Centre – Research & Innovation

An EU-funded consortium is acquiring state-of-the-art X-ray and 3D imaging systems to enable European miners to extract essential steel and mineral sources much more effectively and sustainably.


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The EU-funded X-MINE project’s remedies will enable mining businesses to make greater use of deposits of metals these types of as copper and gold, thus aiding to deal with Europe’s source demands with fewer waste and lower environmental impact. The systems are at this time being tested at pilot sites in Sweden and Greece, with even further trials prepared in Bulgaria and Cyprus.

‘EU countries account for close to twenty % of the world-wide consumption of metals and minerals but produce only close to 3 % of overall source. The X-MINE project’s sensing and 3D modelling systems will help deal with this source-and-demand from customers gap by enabling much more effective ore exploration and extraction,’ says project coordinator Janne Paaso at VTT Complex Analysis Centre of Finland. ‘This will guide to improved extraction of existing mineral deposits, support the discovery of new deposits and make the mining of lower volume, lower grade and elaborate deposits economically feasible.’

Building on slicing-edge innovations in X-ray assessment and 3D imaging technological innovation that by now have vital programs in the health care field, the X-MINE team has formulated a tool called X-Analyzer to scan and analyse rock samples. The tomographic technological innovation enables a drill core sample to be analysed in fewer than thirty minutes at the drill website. This implies geologists can peer deep inside the rock to promptly and properly assess the structural setting and the geochemical and mineralogical composition of the ore, eradicating the need for samples to be transported off-website for assessment.

The method is being tested at mines extracting a wide variety of metals these types of as zinc, silver, guide, copper and gold. It can also detect metals these types of as indium, gallium, germanium, platinum team metals and exceptional-earth aspects, which are in superior demand from customers from modern superior-tech industries.

Modelling mineral deposits

‘The first two drill core scanners have been working at the Lovisagruvan mine in Sweden and at the Hellas Gold mine in Greece for around a calendar year,’ Paaso says. ‘A good deal of appealing measurements have been taken and investigate is ongoing about how these effects can be exploited for the wider 3D geomodelling of mineral deposits.’

In the longer term, the new assessment methods formulated in X-MINE could guide to a revolution in the exploration and characterisation of existing and new mineral deposits, enabling overall mining operations to be optimised centered on improved insights into mineral grain measurement, distribution and other structural, geological, geochemical and mineralogical data.
This would not only make mining much more effective but would decrease its environmental impact in a variety of methods, for illustration by minimising waste via the much more correct assortment of blasting and excavation sites, which in switch would lower power use, transport prices and CO2 emissions.

An additional pilot method being tested in the project, X-AnalySorters, employs X-ray and 3D imaging technological innovation to mechanically detect and form ore with superior accuracy. The first sorting prototype is being tested at Lovisagruvan, Sweden, with other trials due to be executed at Hellas Gold mine in Greece, and at the Assarel-Medet JSC Mining and Processing Intricate, an open up pit copper mine in Bulgaria.

‘The first effects are really promising: waste rock can be correctly separated from ore, resulting in significant discounts in transportation prices and CO2 emissions. We have also received the first good effects from turning previous piles of waste rock into valuable ore,’ the project coordinator says.

In the end, by combining and deploying the two systems at mining sites, X-MINE is aiming to reach a twenty % reduction in transportation prices via much more effective ore and waste separation, a 7 % reduction in waste rock, and a ten to thirty % reduction in power consumption and CO2 emissions.

‘In addition to these environmental benefits, lowered emissions, power use and waste can also lead to greater social acceptance of mining operations,’ Paaso says.

The X-MINE team is organising a sequence of industrial workshops during 2020 to highlight their get the job done and achievements to date, ahead of designs by some of the project partners to start off advertising business merchandise and expert services for the mining field centered on these systems.