Gap delivers on GET detection

A new technology developed by Gap Explosive Ordnance Detection (Gap EOD) is helping organisations detect deep buried material in magnetite stockpiles, a solution to a costly problem which the company likens to finding a needle in a needle stack.

Gap EOD’s UltraTEM system can be used to detect ground engaging tools (GETs) and broken machinery parts in stockpiles, a problem previously deemed by many to be impossible to solve.

“Failure to remove these broken machinery parts can result in costly damage to processing machinery, consequent downtime and a slowdown in production,” Gap EOD Director Stephen Billings said.

“Repairing a crusher can cost up to $1 million every time it’s damaged plus the knock-on cost of production delays.

“Most mines view this as an occupational hazard and those that have tried to locate the lost metals traditionally used a very tedious time-consuming process with little success.”

Part of the challenge with finding GETs in magnetite stockpiles is that the tools are typically made of steel, a conundrum UltraTEM overcomes using deep mineral exploration principles.

Traditional means of finding GETs in stockpiles involved physically lifting sections of the stockpile and spreading them on the ground.

“UltraTEM consists of very sensitive electrical receivers and high-powered transmitters which enables us to scan 2.5m to 3m of stockpile at a time,” Dr Billings said.

“This compares to traditional methods capable of scanning just 15cm. The UltraTEM system allows for ultra-high definition digital mapping with high efficiency.

“It can distinguish closely spaced individual targets, provide accurate estimates of object position and depth and produce auditable digital recording of all data.”

CITIC Pacific Mining is one company to have benefited from the capabilities of UltraTEM, using the technology to remove historical GETs from a 5 million tonne stockpile at its Sino iron project in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

CITIC Pacific Mining Geology Manager David Mason said removing the GETs without causing operational inconvenience and expense had been a challenge in the past.

“We’ve spoken to a lot of geophysical experts about this issue, finally landing on the Gap EOD solution with positive results,” he said.

“It’s a clean process, in and out and you’re not left with equipment you can’t use.”

The time savings on offer are also a major benefit, according to Dr Billings.

“UltraTEM makes the process easier, faster and more effective,” he said. “In one case the projected time to sift stockpiles was six months, but with UltraTEM we did it in six days.

“For mining companies it means extracting lost machinery parts will no longer cost millions of dollars, halt production and hold up the entire project.

“We believe it will have a major impact on the sector with the technology applicable to a wide variety of ore, not just magnetite.”

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