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Online measurement of copper grade in ore sent to production


Deadline 13/01/2021

Closing Time

Challenge description

Currently Zaldívar Mine has a mixed production process for obtaining copper, which has a secondary sulfide leaching stage and, in parallel, a flotation of fines from an ore classification before the leaching heaps construction stage.

The mineralogical characterization shows that minerals of the secondary sulfide type are processed and, subordinately, copper oxides. These minerals mostly contain chalcosine > covelin and brochanthite > chrysocolla, respectively. In the future, the processing of primary sulfides containing chalcopyrite > bornite is considered.

The production process of this company does not currently have instrumentation to obtain reliable and online data of the mineral grade at any point of the process (mine, leaching heaps, flotation, dump and dam). This information is relevant for the reconciliation of metallurgical balances, block models and short and medium term planning.

Challenge scope

The challenge seeks technological solutions that measure copper grade in the ore at the following points:

  • Bucket / shovel or loader to haul trucks.
  • Conveyor belts that go from crushing to stockpile
  • Stacker conveyor belt.
  • Conveyor belts for dry ore to flotation, concentrated pulp and tailings.
  • Conveyor belt for tailings to dump.

Background – Previous experiences

Sampling Tower Installation (CAPEX)

Expected benefits

  • Optimize costs by defining parameters and use of agents.
  • Increase production.
  • Calibrate the short-term and longterm models.

Key performance indicators

  • Copper grade (%).
  • Acid consumption (L).
  • Energy consumption in the comminution process (kW / h)


Area of interest

Geology Metallurgy Planning


Interested management:

Planning Operations


Processes involved Mine:

Crushing – Plant