The four-year deal allows the miner to utilise the technology across Australia for magnetite processing applications as well as all iron ore applications in the Braemar region, including New South Wales.
NextOre was established in 2017 and has been seeking to commercialise the Magnetic Resonance on-belt mineral sensing technology. Developed by Australian research group CSIRO over a period of four years, Magnetic Resonance uses a magnetic resonance analyser (MRA) - a form of radio frequency spectroscopy - to return a quantitative measurement of targeted ore minerals.
The use of the MRA allows for a bulk sorting application with high throughput and high accuracy that can be added to a processing flowsheet's front end to divert waste before processing.
"This has the effect of improving mining grades by pre-concentrating the ore that will be subject to processing, whilst rejecting significant tonnages of low-grade material to tailings via a diversion method such as a chute flop gate or dead box diverter," the company said.
"The theorised result of ore sorting is a reduced volume of upgraded ore that performs better in the processing plant whilst reducing processing costs, as nil-value material that would ordinarily be subject to downstream processing is rejected early on."
In short, a site can see a substantial increase in the plant feed's head grade, which can lead to lower unit operating costs and significant improvements in capital efficiency. Additionally, the application of the technology can offer environmental benefits such as enhanced water efficiency and lower tailings levels.
"We see great potential for technology to unlock a step change in competitiveness of our Razorback iron project," said Peter Schubert, Magnetite Mines chairman.
"NextOre has completed an initial mathematical assessment based on our extensive geological data and the results are encouraging. We are pleased to have secured exclusivity Australia-wide for the NextOre technology, and to move to bulk test work to prove its application to our high-grade Razorback iron project."
He added that Razorback may already have advantages of scale, proximity to established ports, proximity to rail and shallow stripping, but NextOre allows it to take its competitiveness "to another level" within its plan.
"We are sufficiently impressed that bulk test work of this breakthrough technology will form a major part of the planned prefeasibility study," he said.
The company confirmed it has already started a desktop study of the ore sorting solution, and its results to date have been positive. It noted the technology is "particularly well suited" for magnetite measurement, although it can be calibrated to several types of minerals.
Looking ahead, it will be doing further test work to refine the existing flowsheet.
"In terms of reductions in water and electricity consumption, tailings dam size reductions and overall plant efficiencies, the application of bulk ore sorting has the potential to impact developments in the [Braemar] region in a significant way," said Chris Beal, CEO of NextOre.