Key Benefits

  • Improved ergonomics, health and safety
  • Reduced operational costs
  • Quicker turnaround times
  • Enhanced quality
  • Reliability of supply

Automated solutions designed to enhance quality and reduce risk

Well over two billion tonnes of iron ore is mined every year, often involving multiple handling stages, beneficiation, stockpiling, blending, and shipping over vast distances. How can you be certain of the value of your ore during all these processes?

You need to ensure that the samples extracted and prepared along the entire value chain are representative so that meaningful decisions can be made based on their analyses. If you get this wrong, you face the potential of losing millions of dollars in terms of:


  • Poor investment decisions
  • Poor estimates of ore reserves/resources
  • Poor utilisation/wasted resources
  • Reduced mine life
  • Poor plant performance or port inefficiencies
  • Poor product quality
  • Reduced income from product sales


You need analytical results that you can trust. However, with increasing demands for higher sample capacity, mass and quality, it is clear that manual sample preparation and analysis laboratory operations are falling behind, often due to the inability to rely on workers to provide a continuous, repeatable and unaffected process.


Recognising these challenges, we offer a range of automated solutions and equipment, designed to establish a standard that you can rely on. Our proven handling, sample preparation and analytical equipment, integrated with state-of-the-art software packages, is globally recognised as the most efficient solution for automating iron ore mine and port laboratories.


These systems are designed to run 24/7 for 365 days a year, immediately increasing sample capacity and improving turnaround times. Workplace ergonomics are also improved, as operators are not exposed to hazards, and the dependence on labour availability – often in remote locations – is reduced.


Automating these processes also delivers greater consistency, traceability and reproducibility, resulting in enhanced quality that you can trust. Our equipment can automate a range of common functions, including:


  • Sampling and sub-sampling
  • Sample transport
  • Bar-code reading and RFID tracking
  • Sample drying
  • Crushing and splitting
  • Pulverising
  • Compiling and bagging composite samples
  • Physical analysis – particle size, density and moisture content
  • Fusion of pulverised samples into glass beads for XRF analysis
  • Pressing pellets for XRF analysis
  • Chemical analysis – XRF, TGA/LOI, titrations and wet chemistry
  • XRD, FTIR and FTNIR analysis


Using our automated solutions, you will see long-term benefits, placing you in an improved competitive position within the industry. This is due to reduced variability, decreased bias, full traceability, increased mine life, and greater reliability of supply.


Confidence in the value of your product – from the mine to market – is critical to your operation’s success. High quality and proven automated sampling, preparation and analysis provide that assurance.

Meet quality control demands without compromising productivity 

We have used our experience and expertise to engineer automated systems that enhance the functionality of your laboratory through better consistency, reliability and traceability.

Maximised productivity


By automating your preparation and analysis processes, productivity at your laboratory will increase, as heavy samples are not manually handled, and higher volumes can be processed in shorter turnaround times. Your operations are not exposed to fluctuating labour availability and are designed to be operated 24/7/365. The entire integrated system is programmed to minimise any delays between processes ensuring all equipment is operating at peak availability. Also, your automated laboratory requires fewer operators to function more efficiently. Integrate the laboratory to your plant control to achieve true closed-loop control of your process.


Improved ergonomics


Automation can create concern for operators, such as what the impact would be for their jobs. Automating preparation and analysis processes removes the operators from the hazards of manual handling, noise, dust, heat, fumes and repetitive tasks. Even though automation has reduced many of these traditional lab roles, it has also created new ones, which we provide the training for, to ensure your staff develop the skills to manage this new technology.


Enhanced quality


Automation delivers a wide range of improved quality outcomes. Human error is eliminated from many of the processes, so there is:


  • less risk of sample mix-ups
  • greater consistency and traceability
  • enhanced reproducibility


These all lead to improved accuracy and precision of results. In addition, equipment and processes are specifically designed to reduce cross-contamination between samples.   

A complete audit trail of all activities is automatically produced.  

A proven track record of delivering innovative laboratory solutions

For years, we have been providing iron ore laboratories with state-of-the-art semi and fully automated technologies. We often challenge conventional sample processing techniques, and we work with like-minded iron ore producers to engineer ground-breaking innovative solutions.

Cape Lambert Port Laboratory, Australia
Located along the north-west coast of Australia, this sample preparation facility is one of the largest fully automated iron ore port laboratories in the world. This laboratory is unique, as it was designed to handle samples from a time-based sampling regime. This method leads to shorter durations between samples, which means that the equipment can hold additional load, unlike traditional mass-based methods. This regime allows for faster, and yet accurate sampling.

Fortescue Metals Group: Port 1 and 2 Laboratories, Australia
These two laboratories are located near the iron ore loading facility at Herb Elliot Port – where they are fully automated using robotics. The initial design had only a single robotic cell, but to improve efficiency a second robotic cell was added, forming a figure-eight configuration. This new design allows for the workload to be shared evenly and minimises downtime in the case of equipment breakdown. 

Kumba Resources: Saldanha Port Laboratory, South Africa

Based at Saldanha Port, this iron ore laboratory is a fully automated facility, capable of sample preparation and analysis without interference. Because of this, the laboratory functions 24/7, 365 days a year.

It is the world’s first sampling and analytical laboratory at an iron-ore loading port which uses the principle of the laboratory straddling the ship-loading conveyors. Due to limitations with usable land around the ship-loading area, this economical solution was formed, which has proven to be a great success.

Kumba Resources: Sishen Laboratory, South Africa

This laboratory – located in Sishen, South Africa – is a fully-automated sample preparation and analytical facility. It uses robotics to receive 2 kg samples and automatically prepares and analyses these samples, reporting the results directly to the plant. This means that it requires very little input from personnel, making the process quicker and more efficient.

It consists of two automated mills, sample press, fully automated fusion apparatus, magazine rack for approximately 120 sample bottles, an automated sample weighing and splitting station, an industrial robot, two XRF spectrometers, and software to control and monitor the process.

Assmang: Mine and Plant Laboratory, South Africa

Located in Northern Cape, South Africa, this world-class laboratory is semi-automated, as manual intervention is required to place the samples into the processing system. However, from there, all aspects of processing and analysis are automated.

The facility includes all automated sample preparation processes, including crushing, splitting, milling, production of pressed pellets for XRF analysis, automated density measurement, and preparation of aliquots for wet chemical analysis.

Fortescue Metals Group: Solomon Mine Laboratory, Australia
This laboratory – located in Solomon, Australia – is similar to previous designs, as it is a fully-automated robotic mine-site laboratory. It is used to process mine pit and plant samples. Up to 15 kg of dry samples are entered into the automated system, after which all processes – including crushing, splitting, milling, fused bead making, XRF analysis and four-point LOI – are fully automated.

Atlas Iron: Mt Webber Mine Laboratory, Australia

Located at Mt. Webber, Australia, this fully automated sample preparation and analysis facility has been designed to utilise robotics. Because of automation, this laboratory has been able to boost its initial processing capacity of 800 samples per day to 1000 samples per day, with no human errors or intervention.

The automated system processes a mix of geochemical mining and pit control samples, metallurgical control samples and a dedicated line-to-process near mine geochemical exploration samples, which is unique to this facility.

BHP Iron Ore: Newman Laboratory, Australia

This turnkey project – located in Newman, Western Australia – consists of an automated robotic sample preparation facility, which became the largest in the world. Its automated functions included drying, ISO moisture analysis, crushing, splitting, pulverising and dosing into vials.

The end-to-end automated facility receives samples up to 15 kg from the plant, which are registered and manually entered into one of the two automated sample preparation lines. The samples are then automatically dried and weighed to determine the moisture content.

Due to the need to meet a higher capacity, a fourth HAG 6 fusion line was added, known as the Newman Line 4, which allowed BHP to cope with the increased fusion, XRF and TGA capacity required.

Fortescue Metals Group: Christmas Creek Mine Laboratory, Australia
FLSmidth provided its automated technology to FMG’s Christmas Creek Mine laboratory on a turnkey basis, located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. This automated facility is used to process mine pit and plant samples, with the entire comminution process fully automated, as well as the subsequent fusion and analytical systems.

Fortescue Metals Group: Cloud Break Mine, Australia

This fully automated sample preparation and analysis facility was designed and supplied by FLSmidth on a turnkey basis. It is used to process mine pit and plant samples, with up to 15 kg of dry samples being entered into the automated system.

Having the automated laboratory based on the Cloud Break mine site provides FMG with the advantage of efficient turnaround times on chemical analysis. Also, access to accurate data onsite enables FMG’s management to make informed decisions on sample grade, ensuring that the highest quality products are economically produced.

Assmang: Khumani Laboratory, South Africa
Located in the Northern Cape, the Khumani Mine was supplied with a fully automated sample preparation and analytical laboratory on a turnkey basis. The facility provides complete service to the mine and metallurgical plant, via sampling iron and manganese ore. To increase daily sample numbers, the facility was expanded, making processes more efficient and productive.

BHP Iron Ore: Area C Sample Preparation Laboratory, Australia
This satellite robotic iron ore sample preparation laboratory was constructed to prepare samples for chemical analysis at the Newman central laboratory. It is capable of drying, crushing, pulverising, and determining the moisture content of samples without intervention. It has the capacity to analyse 15 kg samples daily.

Minanalytical: Perth Robotic Facility, Australia
On a turnkey basis, Minanalytical was provided with a fully automated robotic laboratory. This included four crusher splitters, six mills, and two spear dosing machines with vial magazines. With also the integration of TGA and XRF automated systems, the facility is capable of preparing more than 1000 samples per day.

Rio Tinto: Tom Price Sample Preparation Facility, Australia
This automated robotic sample preparation facility was provided to Rio Tinto, located in Tom Price, Western Australia. The robot is capable of transporting 15 kg of dried iron ore between crushers, mills and dosing machines, and processes up to 700 samples per day.

BHP Billiton: Nelson Point Port Laboratory, Australia
BHP Billiton was supplied with two fully automated robotic sample weighing systems and two fully automated fusion systems. These were designed for maximum redundancy, reducing the risk of failure at specific points throughout the system. This means that the laboratory will never be in a position where analytical samples cannot be prepared for analysis.

CITIC Pacific: Mine Laboratory, Australia
Located in Australia, this laboratory was supplied with state-of-the-art fusion and TGA systems. It is fully automated, with six induction furnaces for fusion and unique TGA automation technologies. This system can produce just under 600 samples per day without human intervention.

Fortescue Metals Group: Christmas Creek Online Moisture and Elemental Analysers
Three NITA II (Neutron Inelastic scatter and Thermal capture Analysis) online elemental analysers were supplied to this project, for the rapid and reliable measurements of the elemental composition of bulk materials directly on-belt. An online microwave moisture measurement system was also provided to compliment the elemental analysers with fast and accurate moisture analysis of the stream in real-time.

Intertek: Perth Fusion Automation, Australia

Intertek was supplied with a fully automated system that incorporates the latest in fusion and TGA technology for XRF analysis. The facility includes a 200 positions sample

magazine, three automated weighing stations, six induction heating systems, an automated platinum cleaning station and an XRF interface. The system is capable of weighing, fusing and analysing close to 1000 samples per day.

Intertek: Perth Robotic Facility, Australia
FLSmidth supplied Intertek with two robotic automated sample preparation systems and three automated robotic fusion and TGA systems. The system is fully automated, with up to 200 samples in vials being loaded in 100 position trays into a sample input magazine. Using this fully automated analysis equipment drastically improves accuracy and is set to place Intertek in the forefront of Perth’s XRF analysis industry. 

Kumba Resources: Sishen Expansion Project, South Africa
On a turnkey basis, Kumba Resources was provided with a state-of-the-art automated sample station, which was fully integrated into two separate automated robotic sample preparation and analysis cells. The sample station is equipped with crushers, VICO RSD’s and VICO splitters, to produce a range of samples for the integrated robotic laboratories.

Kumba Resources: Sishen Upgrade, South Africa
A third end-to-end fully automated robotic laboratory was supplied to Kumba Resources in South Africa. This facility was designed to automatically receive, prepare and analyse 2 kg samples, reporting the results directly to the plant. This ensures both accuracy and rapid turnaround times.
Kumba Resources: Sishen South Physical Testing, South Africa
This facility was provided to automatically analyse the moisture content of samples, as well as the particle size. The system includes two automated drying ovens, two automated sieve shakers and an automated splitting device (RSD).

Kumba Resources: Kolomela Sample Tower and Chemical Laboratory, South Africa
Kumba was supplied with both a fully automated chemical laboratory and sample tower. The combined systems are capable of processing samples between 40 kg to 160 kg and include crushers, splitters, infrared dryers, and hoppers. The samples are also automatically collected, weighed, and lifted for further analysis.

ALS: Perth Automated Fusion System, Australia
A HAG 8 fusion system was supplied to ALS to aid them in meeting the required capacity of 10,000 fusions per day. It allows ALS to analyse up to 800 samples per day and includes a 300-position vial magazine, an automated sample weighing machine, fusion and XRF analysis equipment, and automated four-point TGA equipment. A further three HAG 8 systems will be supplied to ALS in the future.

Fortescue Metals Group: Solomon Online Moisture and Elemental Analysers
FMG was provided with four NITA II (Neutron Inelastic scatter and Thermal capture Analysis) online elemental analysers for the rapid and reliable measurements of the elemental composition of bulk materials. It offers fast and accurate moisture analysis of the stream in real-time.

Kalassay: Kalgoorlie Automated Fusion System, Australia
A fully automated fusion and TGA system were supplied to Kalassay in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. This system was implemented using three sequential XRF's as opposed to one simultaneous XRF. This allows for multiple ore types to be analysed, instead of just iron ore.

SGS: Perth Automation Facility, Australia
Semi-automated sample preparation equipment was supplied to SGS by FLSmidth, which included four semi-automated HP-M 1500 mills and magazines for iron ore samples. A robotic fusion and TGA system (HAG 8) was also provided to automate weighing and to boost capacity up to 800 samples per day.

Tata Steel: Automated Laboratory, Canada
Located in Northern Canada, this laboratory was supplied as a turnkey project. The equipment was specifically designed to work effectively in cold, harsh environments, and includes sample drying, comminution equipment such as crushers, semi-automated pulverisers with sample magazines, fully automated fusion TGA and XRF equipment.

BHP Iron Ore: Jimblebar Sample Preparation Laboratory, Australia
The facility supplied to the Pilbara region is a fully automated robotic sample preparation laboratory, consisting of functions including drying, ISO moisture analysis, crushing, splitting, pulverising and dosing into vials. RFID technology is used in this facility to sort and process samples, which are transferred to the Newman laboratory for further analysis.

Fortescue Metals Group: Christmas Creek Temporary Laboratory, Australia
Prior to installing a permanent fully automated robotic laboratory, FMG requested that a temporary laboratory be supplied to Christmas Creek, Australia. The facility included transportable buildings, sample drying equipment, crushing, semi-automated pulverising equipment, sample dividing and splitting equipment, and used TGA technology to analyse samples.

Roy Hill: Mine Laboratory, Australia
FLSmidth is a proud supplier of this state-of-the-art, fully automated sample transport, sample preparation and analysis facility, located in the Pilbara region, Australia. This robotic facility consists of three robot cells that process the samples from the plant, which are delivered automatically to the laboratory via monorails. The entire process – including sampling, transport of samples to the lab, compositing and dividing, drying, moisture analysis, comminution and chemical analysis – is fully automated. This integrated end-to-end automation assures the best possible efficiency and fastest possible turnaround times of analytical results to the plant. 

Roy Hill: Port Laboratory, Australia
This unique facility is able to process both ship loading samples and return fines automatically. Samples are prepared for moisture, particle size, thermogravimetric and chemical analysis as required. Small numbers of samples can also be prepared for manual decrepitation tests. The unique aspect of this facility is that it is able to automatically process A and B cuts separately in discrete sub lots, allowing for improved productivity and faster turnaround times.

Centamin’s Sukari Gold Mine improves efficiency with quick gyratory crusher upgrade

Read Story

Stories from FLSmidth