Turkish quartz mining company Mikroman Maden, established in 1991, first adopted sensor-based sorting technology at three of its Turkish processing plants in 2018. It installed three high-capacity Pro secondary laser sorters designed by Tomra Mining and reached its target of improving product quality and increasing capacity at these facilities.
At its Kula plant in Manisa province, which requires the most precise mineral sorting, it combined Tomra’s colour and Laser technologies to achieve the best results and recovery with the highest purity levels, as well as creating product of different quality to meet the specific needs of a variety of markets. The solution has consistently delivered the desired quality standard in all categories, while increasing productivity, and consequently reducing waste.
The collaboration with Tomra has developed as Mikroman’s operation evolved, with the addition of further colour and laser sorters, which now total 18 units across four plants.
“Our collaboration with Tomra and its laser and colour sensor-based sorting technologies has greatly improved our production quality and efficiency,” said Serhat Saran, chairman and general manager of Mikroman. The company saw the potential to expand its operation and enter new markets with these solutions. “Using laser and colour sorting systems allowed us to serve a variety of sectors by changing the quality and chemistry of the micronized and granulated products.”
Satisfied with the results achieved at the Kula plant by Tomra’s Pro secondary colour and laser sorters with bigger particle sizes, Mikroman asked Tomra for a solution to process the finer materials and turn them into value. Mikroman was processing particles sizes down to 15 mm with a Pro tertiary colour, and Tomra installed three additional Pro tertiary colour sorters for finer particles: two for sorting particle sizes from 2-4 mm and one for sizes from 4-10 mm to remove coloured impurities from the material, which is then processed further in a micronized plant on the premises. With these sorters, Mikroman is able to diversify its product to provide the different qualities required by the various sectors it serves also in the smaller particle sizes.
On the other hand, the company also wanted the high purity levels achieved with laser technology in grain sizes below 20 mm. “However, at the time, the Pro tertiary was only available with colour technology, so we looked into a new product development implementing the Tomra multi-channel laser technology in the Pro tertiary platform,” explained Ines Hartwig, director of product management at Tomra Mining. “With this solution, also white non-quartz impurities like shist, feldspar, shale and calcite can be detected and sorted out to achieve a pure white, high-grade quartz product.”
Tomra developed and tested extensively the new Pro tertiary laser sorter in close collaboration with Mikroman, as Serhat Saran remarked, “We worked as if Tomra’s research and development department was one with our own. The ability to sort all the size ranges offered by Tomra according to the colour and chemistry of the product has allowed us to become the leading company in the sector, and to hold a large share of 65% of the exports around the world and domestic sales in Turkey.”
“Using Tomra technology has given us the confidence to commit with our customers to deliver a homogeneous and high-quality product,” said Ünver Kuşçu, project manager at Mikroman.
Ines Hartwig added, “As Mikroman had already implemented the laser technology for bigger grain sizes and had experienced its advantages compared to colour sorters, it was a perfect fit to collaborate, design and field test this new product. They provided us with the small particle references of product and waste that they expected to sort, and our engineering team developed the new machine with the support of Markus Dehler, manager of the Tomra Mining test centre.”
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