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Addressing the unique challenges of mining in South America

As reported by Katherine Macchiarola, Marketing Manager for the Americas

I recently attended the mining conference Exponor in Antofagasta, Chile and found it to be an immense, mostly open-air display and technical program aimed at keeping the South American mines informed of the latest solutions for all aspects of their industry. In and amongst the huge mining machinery and vendors of everything -from dust masks to helicopters- was PANalytical. We observed that the overall attendance was down, and key people we would normally see at the event were back at the mines, in cost-saving mode. But one trend did emerge from the people we did get to talk at this event – a common theme of looking for ways to improve efficiency. This was a conversation we were glad to have with the attendees, as our two new products introduced at this conference - the CNA³ cross-belt elemental analyzer and the Minerals edition of the Zetium XRF spectrometer – both help with efficiency at different points in the mining and ore beneficiation processes.

The CNA³ cross-belt analyzer improves efficiency by accurately measuring the quality of incoming ores, allowing ores to be sorted to produce a consistent raw material. Product manager Jeffrey Kemmerer explains “the system is installed completely under the belt, and this means the source and detector are closer to the material being analyzed, leading to better precision. This also means easy installations, insensitivity to belt width, belt load, load variation and the occasional large rock sitting on top of the belt.” Our 3D-printed model of the CNA³ allowed mining customers to investigate the design and serviceability aspects of the system, and peer inside at the electric source and detector positioning. Sliding the system out for service without disrupting the belt operation particularly impressed the visitors to our booth.

Efficiency could also be gained at the concentrator with the Minerals edition of the new Zetium XRF spectrometer, providing accurate measurement of major, minor and trace elements in concentrates. Mining segment manager Matthew Rayner explains “the ability to measure more samples per shift, without a loss in accuracy and precision, allows for improved process control and improved efficiency and cost savings. The unique combination of a wavelength dispersive (WD) and energy dispersive (ED) core within the SumXcore of the Zetium XRF spectrometer will deliver to mining customers the choice of vastly improved sample throughput. We talk about up to 50% without a loss in precision when compared to equivalent WDXRF measurements, or significantly improved precision in the same measurement time as WDXRF measurements. The achievable improvement in precision will appeal to labs running process improvement programs, such as Six Sigma.”

The fascinating aspects of the mining industry, the crashing ocean waves of this seaside city perched so close to the mountains and desert of Chile, and the warm, inviting nature of the Chilean people made the visit to Exponor 2015 an unforgettable experience.

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