TOMRA X-Ray Transmission (XRT) sorters provide a game-changing solution for the Mt Carbine mine in Queensland, Australia. On the one hand, they deliver remarkable cost savings while achieving high-purity Tungsten for the processing plant. On the other hand, they contribute to a circular economy by effectively eliminating contaminants from the waste rock, which is used to produce green aggregates for sale – also creating an additional revenue stream for owner EQ Resources.
The Mt Carbine mine, located Northwest of Cairns, in the Far North Queensland region of Australia, was acquired by EQ Resources in 2019. The company entered a joint venture with Cronimet Group to set up Tungsten extraction from the mine’s large waste dump and tailings. It is also planning to operate the open pit and underground mine, of which it has full ownership.
EQ Resources Management has a long-standing relationship with TOMRA, having used its sorters with success on a variety of projects since 2011. Based on this experience, the company turned to TOMRA once again for the Mt Carbine mine. Test work conducted at TOMRA’s Test Center in Wedel, Germany confirmed that its XRT technology would provide the solution for the project: “We were confident it would work, but we sent a small sample for testing to make sure,” says Kevin MacNeill, CEO of Mt Carbine mine, EQ Resources. “The advantage of TOMRA’s sorters compared to others is in the image resolution: it is able to resolve the finer inclusions in the Tungsten. This high resolution gives us better recovery and more control over the sorting process.”
High recovery rates with considerable savings with TOMRA’s XRT sorting technologyMt Carbine is currently mining the 12 million tons of low-grade historical stockpiles. The ore is crushed and screened at 6 and 40mm. Two TOMRA XRT sorters are used to pre-concentrate the feed in the 6-40mm size range before processing in the wet plant. Approximately 10% of the sorters’ feed mass is ejected as product with a high recovery of Tungsten well over 90%. This means that only 10% of the mass is processed in the wet plant, dramatically cutting running costs, reducing the required size of the wet plant, as well as saving water and energy.
“We let the technology do the work for us and take out all the rubbish and we’re left with just the pure Tungsten to send to the processing plant – and we do that very cheaply using the sorters,” explains Kevin MacNeill.
“One of the best things about the TOMRA XRT is the cost savings to the operation. It costs approximately $1.5 Australian dollars/ton to sort and then it costs 14 Australian dollars/ton for wet processing: as we take out 90% of the sortable fraction mass, we only have to process 10% of the higher grade concentrate and natural -6mm material while maintaining recovery, so our cost benefit is obvious. We couldn’t afford to run this waste dump if we had to crush everything to 6mm and process it through the wet plant, it would be too low grade and costly.”