When properly applied, various technologies can help mining, coal, and mineral processing operations to run more efficiently, safely, and profitably. These proven technologies are beneficially used at every step in the operation to achieve process efficiencies, deliver better information for real-time and long-term decision making, improve product quality, assure worker health and safety, reduce costs, and meet increasingly demanding environmental and regulatory requirements. And because of our deep experience in the mining and minerals industry, you can be assured that these technologies are effectively deployed with a focus on improving the profitability of your operation.
Particulate matter monitoring systems are used to protect miners’ health by monitoring individual exposure to dust and airborne debris. Our personal dust monitoring systems employ tapered element oscillating microbalances (TEOM) technology and are “gravimetric” instruments that draw (then heat) ambient air through a filter at a constant flow rate, continuously weighing the filter and calculating near real-time mass concentrations of particulate matter.
The TEOM monitor technique relies upon an exchangeable filter cartridge seated on the end of a hollow tapered tube. As particulate deposits land on the filter, the filter mass change is detected as a frequency change in the oscillation of the tube. The mass of the particulate matter is thus determined directly. When this mass change is combined with the flow rate through the system, the monitor yields an accurate measurement of the particulate concentration in real time. The major advantage of this method is that any changes in aerosol characteristics will not influence the accuracy of the mass measurement.
Fugitive dust is typically created through activities such as the physical movement of soil, vehicles traveling over unpaved surfaces, heavy equipment operation, blasting, and wind. Most regions have established exposure limits on projects that typically result in high levels of particulate generation and the exposure limits are written into the operating permit.
Monitoring for fugitive dust exposure requires instrumentation that provides a quick response, is dependable, can be quickly deployed or relocated, and has the performance capabilities stated in the governing guidelines or within the site permit. Our area dust monitors utilize highly sensitive light-scattering photometer (nephelometer) technology. This optical configuration produces optimal response to particles, providing continuous measurements of the concentrations of airborne particles for total particulate and cut-points ranging from PM10 down to PM1, allowing operators to take immediate corrective action when necessary.
The advanced materials analysis instrumentation available to mining operations delivers unprecedented improvements in efficiency and profitability. These improvements can be further extended through specialized software and informatics. Our COBOS solution controls sorting and blending equipment with software that continuously monitors coal quality and composition.
High accuracy electronic weigh scale technology used on conveyors supplies real-time volume by weight information to assist both with the accounting of material received from the mine and in the control of feed into the plant. These are applicable to conveyor belt systems from ship/train to first transfer point, crusher, stockpiling, and bunker.
A belt scale system consists of three major elements: the weighing carriage with load cell(s) measures the weight of material on the belt; the belt speed sensor and electronic integrator joins the output signals from the scale load cell(s); and a speed sensor to monitor the rate of material flow and the total material passed over the scale.
Weighbelt feeders deliver material through an inlet feed section equipped with a manually adjustable vertical slide gate to control material height. The scale carriage/weighbridge assembly measures the gravitational force of the material and converts this force measurement into an electrical output signal proportional to belt loading. A digital speed sensor continuously monitors the belt speed. The microprocessor-based electronics integrate the two signals to produce and display a true rate and a total weight fed. The use of these technologies helps enable real-time quality control and significant process efficiencies.
Many mine sites utilize coal-fired power plants to produce the energy they need. The burning of coal releases many pollutants, including sulfur dioxide (SO2) and various particulate matter. The smokestacks from these power plants also emit greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), which are detrimental to the environment and health.
Continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) are used to monitor these harmful substances, allowing plants to reduce emissions where necessary and meet regulatory requirements. The system includes probes that are installed in stack and transfer gas to analyzers in the shelter.
Used for real-time quality control in process optimization, PGNAA/PFTNA technology provides high frequency online elemental analysis of an entire raw material process stream. Analyzers using PGNAA/PFTNA are situated directly on the conveyor belt and penetrate the whole raw material cross-section, delivering minute-by-minute, uniform measurement of the entire material stream, not just a sample.
PGNAA/PFTNA delivers an advantage over other surface analysis technologies such as X-ray fluorescence (XRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and spectral analysis technologies that can only measure limited depths and surface areas which may not be representative of the entire amount of material on the belt.
Mining industries and those that utilize mined minerals and materials as raw materials are exposed to a variety of naturally occurring radiation sources. For example, coal contains trace amounts of naturally occurring radioactive elements. And because of the extensive use of radioactive measurement and analysis techniques (e.g. X-ray and Gamma ray analyzers) in mining operations and processing plants, the potential for exposure increases dramatically. Both natural and man-made sources of radiation are potentially dangerous and life threatening if not managed appropriately.
Detection of various types of radiation throughout the process is paramount to worker safety and quality control. Radiation detection technology can be delivered by way of multiple devices, each suited for the type of radiation to be monitored, the environmental circumstances and source.
Handheld radiation detection devices provide real time detection of gamma radiation with accurate dose rate measurements, verify the radioactive find and assess whether radioactivity is of natural or artificial (man-made) origin. Portable devices with high sensitivity neutron response and alarm threshold can be worn to monitor gamma sensitivity and energy compensated dose rate measurement.
Tramp metal is metallic scrap that may accidentally find its way onto conveyors and into bulk materials during the mining process. It can damage expensive crushers, conveyors, and other processing equipment. As a result, tramp metal can stop operations, increase maintenance costs and cause lost production time.
Tramp metal detection technology can help find all types of metallic scrap that conventional metal detectors may miss, including bucket teeth, manganese steel mantles, bore crowns, bar scrap, chains, and tools. Tramp metal detection provides an economical and reliable method of protecting expensive mining and cement bulk weighing, monitoring, and sampling equipment from potentially costly damage.
X-ray diffraction (XRD) is among the most effective non-destructive tools for identifying and characterizing polycrystalline materials with respect to their crystallography, polymorphic structures, phases, and crystallinity changes. By measuring the diffraction angle of a primary X-ray beam according to Bragg’s Law (λ = 2d sinθ, with λ: wavelength, d: d spacing, θ: diffraction angle), it is possible to characterize and identify various polycrystalline materials in many research and industrial applications.
These XRD solutions are routinely used in geological samples including complete phase analysis of minerals.
Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) is a convenient technology to screen all kinds of materials, including slurry, for quick identification and quantification of elements with little or no sample preparation. EDXRF is designed to analyze groups of elements simultaneously. This type of XRF instrumentation separates the characteristic X-rays of different elements into a complete fluorescence energy spectrum which is then processed for qualitative or quantitative analysis. Filters positioned between sample and detector are used to improve signal, background reduction, and focus on certain regions of the spectra. EDXRF instruments can have one of two types of excitation geometry; direct excitation, or 2D optics, and indirect excitation, also called 3D optics. The purpose of these geometries is to remove the background below the characteristic element lines in the spectrum and to increase the peak-to-background ratio (peak-to-noise). Both types rely on an energy dispersive detector and an X-ray tube; the difference is in the optic path.
Wavelength-Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (WDXRF) is a well-established elemental analysis technique for geological materials, from carbon to uranium, in a wide variety of samples with accuracy, precision, and reliability. WDXRF technology uses crystals to separate the fluorescence spectrum into individual wavelengths of each element, providing high resolution and low background spectra for accurate determination of elemental concentrations. Apart from the economically important elements, WDXRF can also identify and quantify toxic or undesirable elements or compounds which can adversely affect the final product or the environment.
X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) is a non-destructive analytical technique used to determine the elemental composition of materials. XRF analyzers work by measuring the fluorescent (or secondary) X-rays emitted from a sample when excited by a primary X-ray source. Each of the elements present in a sample produces a set of characteristic fluorescent X-rays, or “unique fingerprints.” These fingerprints are distinct for each element, making XRF analysis an excellent tool for quantitative and qualitative measurements.
Handheld XRF analyzers are a reliable method to analyze ore samples in open pits and underground mines – achieving the accuracy required to provide defensible information for process oversight, quality assurance, and various other operational decisions (such as grade control). Portable XRF technology can help ascertain the viability of lower grade resources and find localized high-grade enrichments, delineate ore from waste boundaries to reduce the randomness of digging, and obtain defensible data and minimize the need to send samples to external testing labs.