Exploration Technology by De Beers
De Beers has built a prestigious reputation over the years, derived primarily from one attribute: quality diamonds. The company, which has been the leader in diamonds for more than 100 years, has notoriously remained silent about its exploration tactics…until now.
De Beers recently opened up about its exploration strategies and how the company’s technology division ‘DebTech’ is giving it a competitive advantage for diamond exploration, mining and ore treatment.
The role of DebTech is to provide cost effective and value adding technology that will ensure a sustainable competitive advantage to the value of De Beers.
The company’s innovative products are developed by marrying De Beers’ diamond industry knowledge along with its technical expertise to provide world-class services. De Beers’ R&D function helps manage the entire DebTech innovation process and aims to identify, create and demonstrate the feasibility of new technologies in order to further the company’s Exploration and Ore Processing divisions.
According to the DebTech website, the R&D function is to make use of key technologies suppliers in the relevant fields of interest, while implementation is completed as a collaborative process between DebTech and relevant De Beers’ business partners.
“The Product R&D function manages the entire product acquisition process from requirement analysis, concept generation to final design and operates alongside the Product Supply and Support function. Together, these two functions collaborate with internationally recognised technology component suppliers and combine their unique understanding of operational requirements, within the diamond industry, to deliver the products appropriate to meet those unique needs.”
To ensure quality and innovation is maintained among all of its products, the division employs a large number of specialized technicians. Core functions are performed by this team throughout the product lifecycle, including the provisions of specialized skills during the manufacturing, assembling and testing of products.
Scheduled inspections are performed to ensure a high standard of efficiency as well as serving as a standardize plant audit. This provides management with an unbiased view of the performance of the diamond technology.
Products and services
Until 2008, the division’s products and services were only made available to the De Beers’ family of companies around the world. According to DebTech marketing manager Nico van Zyl, the availability of its products on the open market coincided with the fall in world financial markets, with many operations significantly reducing output during 2009.
"Even though this has been the case, DebTech has managed to achieve all its financial targets for the past two years and was able to sell the first sorting units to outside companies. Electronic sorting remains our main focus and is supplemented by magnetic separation and security technologies."
The main focus of DebTech has always been related to the diamond industry. Key product areas are X-ray sorters and laser Raman diamond sorters. The division can also supply equipment that can analyze and define diamond production.
“We can provide sorting solutions that can deliver a 99% concentrate by weight in an automated mode, and this can be done for the entire size range,” said Van Zyl.
“From a large range of products, only a number have been selected for display. These will include diamond X-ray sorting technology, the Scannex low dose X-ray body scanner, the magnetic roll separator, dense-medium controllers and the metallurgical service.”
The company’s portfolio of products includes:
• CDX113C and CDX116C Single or Dual Wavelength X-ray Sorters
• CDX118CD and CWX118CD Dual Wavelength X-ray Sorters
• Dense Medium Controller (DMC)
• MagRoll-Single Stage
• Osprey Ultra Violet Diamond Scavenging Sorter
• BWX 1112 High Throughput Large Diamond X-ray Sorter
• Tracers & Simulants
• Metallurgical Services
The future of diamond exploration
According to Bruce Cleaver, executive head at De Beers group, new technological advances is vital for the future of diamond exploration to be successful.
"Technology advancement is critically important to support the whole value chain, including in sustaining the supply to meet growing demand. As supply from existing mines decreases, mining will become increasingly complex and remote, and increasingly costly. Investment in operational innovations will be required to drive productivity"
The DebTech division is continuously working to develop the latest technological advances for diamond exploration. During the last two years, the division has placed emphasis on filling a gap in the suite of diamond sorters, launching an array of new products to fulfill this need including the Rhovol Densimetric Profiler, the BWX1112 and BWX118 large diamond sorters, and a new diamond sorter utilizing XRT technology.
Last month the company launched its airborne magnetic SQUID system (Super Conducting Quantum Interference Device) for faster execution of work programs and reducing mining exploration costs. The new technology has significant benefits over existing exploration methods, especially as it is the first device of its kind that can operate on a fixed-wing plane.
With diamond reserves slowly being depleted from existing mines, the industry is in good hands with DebTech as the De Beers’ division is continuing to search for new technological advancements to assist in diamond exploration.
Axora launches global challenge for digital technology
Axora is launching the world’s first international competition to discover new cost-saving digital technology for industrial companies, which can produce rapid benefits within a year.
The Metals & Mining and Oil & Gas sectors have recently experienced budget cuts of 20% on average, driven by a variety of factors including the global pandemic, slump in demand and price wars. The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge aims to transform these industries by discovering innovative, digital solutions that reduce cost fast and pay for themselves, whilst achieving the same or improved productivity, health and safety and sustainability standards.
“While digital solutions can help to get work done quicker and more cost-effectively, they typically require a three-year ROI, and if there’s no flexibility in the budget, a full budget planning cycle is needed to get things moving”, said Dr. Nick Mayhew, Chief Commercial Officer, Axora.
“Yet, extra financial cost is often incurred in delaying digital projects, so customers have asked us to highlight solutions that can have an ‘in year payback’ whereby the cost spent on the solution and deployment will be more than recovered within the budget year - this accelerates the timeline and drives positive business impact, quickly.”
The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge
Axora is keen to learn of any digital cost-saving innovation which: meets the 12-month payback timeframe; can be deployed in any part of the value chain including upstream, downstream or midstream oil and gas, metals processing or mining; and is ready for market. The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge is open to entrepreneurs, start-ups, academics and sector leaders across the world. The competition will be judged by a panel of leading industry experts.
“We’re passionate about supporting our industries and customers through all forms of digital transformation and the cost-saving solutions we are searching for could also provide a lifeline to many mining and metals and oil and gas companies in the current economic climate,” added Dr. Mayhew.
Improving productivity, safety and sustainability
Up to ten finalists will be chosen to pitch their solutions at a digital pitch day later this year, after which Axora will validate the ROI models and vet the solutions. The winner will receive the ‘Axora Market Accelerator’ sales and marketing package worth £10,000. This includes a two-hour workshop, promotion through Axora’s thought leadership content and inclusion into its digital demand engines, providing the opportunity for the winning solution to benefit thousands of industrial companies. Entries are open until May 31. Full details of the competition including terms and conditions can be found here.
To learn more about the Axora B2B digital solutions marketplace read our feature in the latest issue of Mining Global magazine.