Most minerals can be sorted with optical methods, and those that differ in color or texture and can be sorted using the VNIR spectral range. Various source sites may have minerals that are similar in color but have different chemical compositions. The distinct spectral characteristics of these inorganic materials can be scanned by a hyperspectral camera placed above a moving belt carrying the rocks. Real time high throughput sensing allows the individual rocks to be characterized and sorted further downstream from the camera.
Large savings are possible when enriching the product stream of the desired mineral by reducing the downstream chemical extraction and other unit processing steps. The chemicals used in extraction are usually the most damaging to the environment, thus the reduction or elimination of chemical extraction is a major advantage to the mining industry.