Clean Energy Metals from Africa – IMA to boost production


The energy transition to a more sustainable and carbon-neutral future requires a vast amount of mined minerals which puts extreme pressure on the mining industry.

According to a recent Science Direct study, that considered the Energy Agency’s scenarios up to 2050, the transition to clean energy “could increase Total Material Requirement (TMR) flows associated with mineral production by around 200-900% in the electricity sector, and 350-700% in the transport sector. Such a drastic increase in TMR flows is largely associated with an increased demand for copper, cobalt, nickel, graphite, lithium, rare earths and others”

Metals and Minerals from Africa

Africa is the producer of the minerals and metals of the future. The role of our responsible operations is not only to produce and fill the obvious gap between need and supply but better than ever to ensure that the environment remains a clean and safe place to live and operate.

New and better means are needed, from mineral exploration to pre-enrichment and mineral processing, as well as the treatment and storage of the side rock in the mine. At every stage, we need to be more efficient and take better care of people and the environment, and the future of the mine until it goes out of business.

We can already clearly see that the mine side rock or tailings of today’s mine are the raw material of the future. we also see how reckless mining has led to local habitat destruction. We do not want to continue this and we need to find new ways to suit today in Africa.

IMA company has been working and researching for a decade to develop better mining processes with industry-leading mining companies, top universities, expert organizations, and technology companies. As a result, new and improved mining process control methods and tools will accelerate ore prospecting, and feasibility phase investigations, refine and improve the ore mining phase, ensure optimal ore processing, and provide new pre-enrichment methods and alternatives without water consumption.

Our proposals to African mining include tools to sample and analyze ore grade during the exploration phase with an on-line mobile laboratory (ScanVan, see below), which can be used to analyze drill cuttings and drill core on-site without any sample preparation and any delay. The same system can be used for feasibility studies in pre-concentration by Bulk Ore Sorting System (BOSS).

IMA Bulk Ore Sorting System in action

African mining is today in many locations small scale or artisan mining with a too-small capacity to economically start (wet) ore processing. BOS is an obvious solution to such cases. Sorted analyzed ore will be piled for further ore processing by the “bigger players” and known analyzed waste can be stored in proper ways.

It is also obvious that the old mine side rock and tailings material can be reused using either dry or wet pre-enrichment (BOS method). There are hundreds of these mining areas and what would be a cheaper way to start mining than to exploit precious ore already mined and crushed? Yesterday’s mine side rock can be efficiently utilized with new enrichment methods.

IMA’s technology offering – sampling and analyzing

 IMA Engineering proved the effectiveness of Smart Mining Sensor Solutions in all the mining stages. This resulted in a shorter time to mine and obtaining valuable ore, faster and cheaper, even from waste. All these, while reducing the water consumption and the carbon footprint.

IMA sensor solutions help companies lower their mining costs, obtain better metal recovery, and increase metal production in flotation. More ore, at lower costs, with less environmental impact.

To achieve these goals, the sensors collect real-time geo-metallurgical and ore grade data. The data comes from drill cores, drill cuttings, and ore on the conveyor belt or loader bucket. And it all happens before the material reaches the processing mill, concentrators, or waste rock areas.

New sensors work in all the mining stages. Thus, they enable the analysis of ore and waste separation, even before the energy-intensive grinding and minerals’ processing stage. As a result, the sensors also bring a significant positive environmental impact, reducing energy consumption in mining and processing, as well as decreasing the mine carbon emissions by up to 30%.

With smart mining solutions, companies reduce mine acid rock drainage, separating sulfur-bearing waste rock from the clean waste rock, and reduce the tailings by separating waste rock from mill feed.

The presence of personnel in blasting benches is reduced or eliminated, thus preventing exposure to dust, by New Sampling and Analysis tools (Blasthole Sample-Analyzer), which enable sampling on autonomous drills. The BxSA can be integrated on the drill rig or fitted inside a Van.

Blasthole Sampler-Analyzer (BSA) continuously collects samples and dense drill cuttings data from production or Reverse-Circulation holes. The Analyse While Drilling (AWD) and Measure While Drilling (MWD) data provide accurate elemental analysis and rock/ore hardness (i.e drill/blast/crush/grindability) information combined with ore and waste rock location coordinates. Frequent samplings and instant analysis make it superior compared to any conventional technology, which often leads to non-representative ore samples.

IMA Blasthole Sampler-Analyzer at an Australian mine

 Using the BSA data the geologists can obtain 3D maps of the ore grade and location. This leads to less waste and a smaller impact on the environment, 20% less water used in the process, significantly lower costs, and shorter time-to-mine.

New Autosampler for physical drill chip sampling automates sampling, sample splitting, and sample bag change processes. The system, operated from the drilling cabin, reduces manual work compared to traditional sampling. This allows geologists and drilling helpers to be more productive and work safely. The Autosampler is a highly accurate rotating cone-type sample splitter, which can be integrated and retrofitted on any drill and allows visual logging of chips.

IMA ScanVan or Scanmobile collects real-time elemental data from drill cores or drill chips with XRF analysis without sample preparation! These are mobile laboratories, built in a utility truck or van, reporting elemental composition, minerals, photos, and Rock Quality Designation value, via the remote logging web browser, Remolog™. Both come with inbuilt quality assistance and quality control systems.

While Scanmobile is analyzing drill cores directly from their boxes (round or split), ScanVan is moving between drill rigs or drill cutting cones collecting samples while drilling or manual shovels of drilling dust on transfer belt to on-line real-time analysis. With ScanVan a blast bench can be sampled and analyzed in a shift before charging. Parallel collected verification samples are analyzed in the mine or local laboratory.

Loading, bulk ore sorting, and tracking the ore to the processing plant 

IMA Fast Conveyor Analyzer (FCA) can be mounted on any belt and is on-line analyzing continuously ore grade composition right after the primary crusher fast (at 15sec). FCA is used in loading control (feedback and reconciliation), analyzing processing plant feed or in Bulk Ore Sorting (BOS) with diverting gate.

It provides real-time data on ore grade (mine-to-mill) and in BOS application also data on the sorted low-grade ore and waste. FCA will stabilize and increase the head grade and recovery in flotation.


IMA Fast Conveyor Analyzer at a Zambian mine

With complicated ore bodies, SmartTag can be combined with FCA to better select and control different grades (and avoid waste) in intermediate stockpiles to eliminate surprises in the processing plant.

The ecological and economic impacts of FCA in the mine and processing plant are significant, including a 20% reduction of energy in grinding circuits energy and CO2 emissions by reducing waste rock dilution.

Our studies indicate that using BSA on drill benches and FCA in BOS will increase ore reserves by 20% both by removing waste and recovering ore from the low grade.

We also want to emphasize the importance of measuring the quality of the side stone whether it is done with a blasting bench or BOS after separation

Dry Bulk Ore Soering will reduce water consumption by 10% to 20% of a treated ton of ore while the amount of tailings is also reduced by 20%.

Combining FCA analysis at the plant feed and using IMACON on-line slurry analysis in flotation will ensure another 2% to 3% higher recovery rates. IMACON slurry analyzer sampling and analysis system controls flotation circuits with accurate and fast XRF analysis of the most important feed, tailings, and concentrate slurries.


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