Tomra, a provider of advanced collection and sorting systems, now offers the benefits of Insight digital sorting to the mining industry. The company said the Black chrome mine, an asset of the Sail Group in South Africa, is currently using the technology, supported by a local Tomra service team.

Tomra described Insight as a subscription-based service that turns sorting machines into connected devices that generate valuable process data. The data are gathered in near real-time, stored securely in the cloud, and can be accessed from anywhere and across plants via a web portal available for desktop and mobile devices. For the Black chrome mine the platform is, in an early trial-stage period, being managed by Tomra’s service manager, Dean Labuschagne.

“The ability to remotely monitor all sorting activities, using a single interface, is particularly interesting for our customers in the mining industry,” Labuschagne said. “With big distances between headquarters and mining site, this is exactly what companies such as Black need to build a better collaboration between management and operations.”

“Mineral processors can now move from making decisions based on experience and local observations to decisions based on experience and hard facts,” he continued. “This means Tomra Insight can help reduce waste rock and downstream processing costs, enabling processors to earn more dollars per ton.

“With TOMRA Insight, you have the ability to know exactly what your sorter is doing at any given time. Is it running? Is it running with or without feed? Are we feeding under- or oversized material? Do we need to intervene? The digital sorting dashboard captures and visualizes a wide variety of valuable performance metrics.”

According to Tomra, even in this early stage, data-driven optimization projects such as the one at Black show the mining operations’ cost-efficiency can be significantly improved. Downtime is reduced by monitoring machine health and performance in near real-time, identifying gaps in production and analyzing potential root causes. Maintenance management is made easier by moving to predictive and condition-based maintenance, and by preventing unscheduled machine shutdowns. Throughput is maximized by evaluating material grade variations and optimizing sorting equipment accordingly. And sorting to target quality is enhanced by having accurate material composition data, which enables decisions to be based on more detailed information.

Tomra Mining said it is working closely with customers to further development of TOMRA Insight and plans to add more features and functionalities, which customers will automatically receive as part of their service level agreement.

Labuschagne concluded, “I am convinced that digital sorting metrics generated with Tomra Insight will rapidly grow into a strategic management tool with benefits from mining site to boardroom. A well-documented view of the sorting data will become an indicator for the mine’s overall performance. And, a better insight into the volume and grade of both the deposit and the yield will become a determining factor for a more adequate mine management.”