Have you dreamed of knowing the run-of-mine mineralogy in real time on a conveyor belt, right at your mine site? It's now possible, thanks to a technology developed by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).
Combining laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) with artificial intelligence (AI), Lumine™ is an emerging new sensing platform developed as part of the NRC's High-efficiency Mining program.
Smoothing out bumps on the rocky road to smart sensing
"Analyzing rolling stones on a moving belt is a bumpy and dusty business," says Daniel Gagnon, Leader of the Systems Integration and Prototypes Team at the NRC. "Our experts used 3 key approaches to overcome challenges along the rocky road, to achieve smart sensing in a harsh, moving environment."
Smart mineralogy! Measuring minerals is the name of the game in mining sensing. The NRC has developed mineralogical detection and quantification algorithms that process large volumes of LIBS raw data. Powered by AI, the algorithms enable mine operators to progress from models and instrument data to concrete insights that can guide decisions about rock sorting and processing.
Focus that beam! Laser beams have trouble focussing on moving rocks of different sizes. To address this, the NRC's instrumentation experts developed high-performance autofocussing optics for LIBS. This very fast autofocus allows the focal length of the LIBS spot to automatically adjust its position so that each LIBS measurement can be used.
Dust off the rocks! Optical surface measurement techniques are very sensitive to surface contaminants like humidity and dust. This only gets worse in a harsh environment where airborne dust abounds. To overcome this challenge, the NRC's aerodynamics and mechanical experts designed an advanced air nozzle that cleans the rock surface of deposited dust particles and ensures a clean optical laser path, eliminating surface and airborne dust effects.
Lumine™ goes industrial: From the NRC's mining sensors hub in Canada to field tests in South Africa
Lumine™ will soon be deployed at an industrial testing site for the first time. The NRC is partnering with a large international mining company with operations in South Africa to validate proof of concept, deepen data management, and advance technology readiness levels, at one of their sites in South Africa.
Lumine™ was also featured in a video produced by Australia's Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE) in spring 2021. CRC ORE acts as a convenor to bring stakeholders in mining sensing together. The organization identified Lumine™ as one of the most promising sensing technologies for mineralogy quantification in real time.
Canadian mining companies and sensor developers can harness the benefits of smart sensing closer to home, at the NRC's mining sensors hub in Boucherville, Québec—a national, accessible facility for sensor development and testing. This is the place to scan rolling stones!
Smarter mining to reduce environmental footprint
Ultimately, identifying the right rocks to crush and the most promising areas for extraction not only increases efficiency for mine operators. Lumine™ can also be a powerful tool for reducing the environmental footprint of the mining sector.
"Lumine™ gives Canadian miners a sustainable, competitive advantage in today's critical minerals global market," says Sevan Bedrossian, Leader of the NRC's High-efficiency Mining program. "We are proud of everything our team has accomplished in developing this cutting-edge, made-in-Canada technology and looking toward a bright future for smart sensing and real-time mineralogy characterization in mining operations."
To explore business opportunities relating to the NRC's Lumine™ technology, please contact Yves Quenneville, Client Relationship Leader, NRC.