Mining giant BHP has recruited Melbourne-based tech firm Southern Innovation to help it identify the quality of iron ore in real time, with trials of a new device set to begin this year.
The companies have collaborated to develop and commercialise technology that dramatically improves the performance of radiation detectors for the mining industry, based on a complex signal-processing algorithm.
Traditionally during exploration, mining companies use drill rigs to determine how far down to mine for materials such as iron ore. The drills spurt a cloud of dust, which is captured and analysed for ore quality – a process that can take as long as six weeks.
But three years after BHP approached Southern Innovation to develop a technology to determine immediately the quality of the iron ore, or waste material, coming to the surface, the small tech company has come up with two prototypes of a device called Drillscan.
Drillscan trials will begin in about July, following initial field tests that started last August. Southern Innovation founder and technical director Paul Scoullar said the Drillscan device theoretically could be attached to all BHP’s drill rigs.