Three dimensional quantitative textural analysis of nickel sulphide ore using X-ray computed tomography and grey level co-occurrence matrices on drill core

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Alongside the global trend to mine and process lower grade and more mineralogically complex ores, there has been an increased awareness of the prevalence of ore heterogeneity. Ore texture - the interrelationship of minerals comprising a rock, has been identified as one of the primary geometallurgical indicators of ore variability. It is well known that a relationship exists between ore texture and the resultant metallurgical performance (ore hardness, throughput, liberation, grade, recovery). Consequently, there exists a need to rapidly, routinely, cost effectively, and reliably quantify ore texture and its variability prior to mining. This information can thereafter be incorporated into the geometallurgical block model and used for decision making informing mine planning, plant operation and optimisation, forecasting, and mine closure. The ability to rapidly, routinely, cost effectively and reliably quantify ore texture remains an ongoing challenge. In this study, the use of 3D X-ray computed tomography (XCT) is proposed as an innovative solution to non-destructively image the internal structure of drill core. Thereafter, an established, discipline independent two dimensional (2D) image analysis technique known as grey level co-occurrence matrices (GLCM) is specially adapted into three dimensions (3D) to quantify ore texture using XCT grey level volumes of drill core.