Mina Esperanza de Caravelí, owned by MTP and operated by Minera Croacia, is a polymetallic gold copper vein deposit with a mining rate of 150 metric tons per day. It is located in the district of Atico, in the Nazca - Ocoña geological gold belt in the southern part of Perú, and contains narrow veins with a rosary formation, of which over 30 have been discovered so far. The mineralization is located in vein fill fractures of hydrothermal origin and mesothermal in appearance. In 2019, Minera Croacia contacted TOMRA to explore a solution to extract value from low grade ore that was being discarded for not being economically viable, and address the environmental issue of metals left in the dumps.
TOMRA and Minera Croacia share an approach to mining that recognizes the key role of mining in the transition to a circular economy. “Mining operations need to find ways to optimize the use of natural resources while reducing waste and their impact on the environment as much as possible. With TOMRA’s ore sorting technologies this is possible,” says Marco Fernandez Concha, Senior Geologist to Minera Croacia.
A close collaboration for a precisely tailored solution
Minera Croacia is a small mining company for which a sensor-based ore sorter is a significant investment: “When we purchase important equipment, we need to analyze the solution in great detail because we can’t afford to make mistakes,” explains Emilio Uribe, Senior Metallurgical Advisor at Minera Croacia. “We need it to work and deliver the results we want from the start. TOMRA has adapted to our needs as a small business with limited resources. They have been an important advisor, giving us all the support we needed with highly qualified and knowledgeable staff. They have really committed to the project and found the solution that meets our operational needs and is financially viable for us.”
The teams from TOMRA and Minera Croacia worked closely to precisely analyze the requirements and identify the best solution. TOMRA’s Test Center in Wedel, Germany conducted three series of tests on samples from the mine to narrow down the requirements. A technical team from Minera Croacia attended the final session, which gave them a better understanding of what TOMRA’s XRT technology could do for their operation. “This project stands out for presenting different types of ores from different locations,” explains Christian Korsten, who at the time was the Test Center’s Manager. “Usually we test one or two different ores for a customer, but with Minera Croacia we had different metallogenic veins. They were all a little bit different in mineralogy, sensor response, and in the customer’s objectives for each.” Excellent communication between the two companies’ teams was crucial to the successful outcome – especially since Covid-19 travel restrictions limited the opportunities for face-to-face meetings.
Mathilde Robben, TOMRA Key Account Manager, ensured Minera Croacia received the support and advice they needed throughout the process: “We did it all through online meetings. The management team and staff at Minera Croacia were always to the point and friendly, and together we completed this fast-track project”. Christian Korsten agrees: “Minera Croacia had very clear objectives. All our questions were answered in a perfect, fast and professional manner, and the same applies to the discussion of the test results. This project was one of my favorites in almost 10 years in the Test Center.”
The test has shown that TOMRA's sorter can create value from material that would have gone to the waste dump, from 33% of the ROM that is too low-grade for processing to be financially viable.