Test Robot Digs The Dirt Down Under

| Global Environmental Processes

Automation plays significant role in Rio Tinto Koodaideri iron ore mine in Western Australia

Test equipment company supplies fully automated analytical laboratory for Rio Tinto’s Koodaideri Iron Ore mine in Australia

Malvern Panalytical, a supplier of analytical instrumentation, is taking its product range to extremes and proving that some environments are better left to automatic systems for collecting samples and performing analysis.

The company’s latest order involves carrying out the engineering, design and equipment supply of a fully automated robotic analytical system for Rio Tinto’s Koodaideri iron ore project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. This extremely remote, sparsely populated region is rich in mineral resources and has vast deposits of iron ore.

The contract for the work was awarded by Scott Technology, the supplier of the sample preparation and automation equipment. The automated laboratory will incorporate multiple fusion bead sample preparation, X-ray spectrometry instrumentation and automated Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) equipment. Initial testing capacity will be 600 samples per day, with the potential for future expansion to double that number. Completion of the laboratory facility is expected in mid-2021.

According to Huub Smit, Sector Director for Primary Materials at Malvern Panalytical, the partnership with Scott Technology is a good one because the two companies offer complementary technologies, from sample preparation to complete analysis, so Rio Tinto can be confident that the combination will deliver a world-class facility.

“Malvern Panalytical has a long-established business relationship with Rio Tinto Iron Ore. However, this project is a major step in the evolution of Scott and Malvern Panalytical as providers of automation systems across Australia and Asia and follows on from our success in supplying automation systems to laboratories in Europe,” says Smit.

Steve Russell, the Mining Director at Scott Technology explains that the system needed for the Koodaideri laboratory required the engagement of key technology providers that had the expertise, scale and commitment to support this kind of project,

“Scott Technology has been impressed with the work undertaken to date by the Malvern Panalytical teams in Almelo and Perth, and we look forward to an implementation that once complete, will be the safest, highest quality, most productive iron ore laboratory in the world.”

The Koodaideri iron ore project recently received a $2.6 billion investment boost as owners Rio Tinto put the money up to drive expansion and technology utilisation. A mine which is firmly placed in the 21st century, Koodaideri will be a showcase of innovation including mine automation and simulation systems and the extensive use of automated data acquisition systems and control loops to optimise production.

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