A Down-Hole Probe for Real-Time Ore Grade Assessment in "Look Ahead" Mining

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-03ER83766
Agency Tracking Number: 73147B03-I
Amount: $750,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2004
Solicitation Year: 2003
Solicitation Topic Code: 25
Solicitation Number: DOE/SC-0059
Small Business Information
611 N. Wallace, Suite 7, Bozeman, MT, 59715
HUBZone Owned: Y
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Rand Swanson
 (406) 586-3356
Business Contact
 Michael Kehoe
Title: Dr.
Phone: (406) 586-3356
Email: kehoe@resonon.com
Research Institution
73147-The removal, sorting, disposal, and treatment of waste rock in mining operations are expensive processes, wasteful of energy, hazardous, and environmentally damaging. The best possible remedy is to avoid creating the waste rock in the first place. This could be accomplished with existing mining techniques if ¿look-ahead¿ ore grading were used to evaluate unmined rock in real time. This project will develop a down-hole sensor that will use recently developed optical techniques with induced polarization and resistivity sensors, to provide look-ahead ore grade assessment. The probe will allow miners to assess the local ore grade before blasting, thereby enabling selective mining. In Phase I, proof-of-principle demonstrations showed that a down-hole probe for hyperspectral imaging will provide good spatial resolution. An improved design eliminated the need for moving parts. Measurements taken on ore samples indicate induced polarization measurements will indicate ore grade. In Phase II, a prototype down-hole sensor system will be built, calibrated, and tested. The system will be evaluated in an underground platinum/palladium mine to grade ore in real-time. Finally, benefits provided by the down-hole system will be documented, refinements in the system will be made, and the range of applications will be expanded to include gold mining. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by awardee: The down-hole probe, initially targeted for ¿look-ahead¿ mining applications, should enable selective mining and local morphology mapping. The system should decrease the amount of waste rock generated, improve mine safety, decrease energy usage, improve productivity; and decrease the environmental impacts of mining. The technology should become increasingly important as near-surface ore bodies are depleted and smaller, deeper ore bodies must be found.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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