Dr. Jens Gutzmer
Director &
Head of the Analytics Department
Phone: +49 351 260 - 4400

Dr. Raimon Tolosana-Delgado
Department of Modelling and Valuation
Phone: +49 351 260 - 4415

Lucas Pereira
Department of Processing
Phone: +49 351 260 - 4477

From elements to particles - particle fate modelling

The use of mineralogical information to improve minerals processing operations has barely moved beyond trial-and-error. The main reason is the limited information applied – usually mineral contents, only. However, materials characterization has greatly advanced using techniques to describe the size, shape, and composition of individual particles systematically and within a reasonable time.

Therefore, the advanced characterization of raw materials should be fully applied to not only better understand but also predict the particle behavior in particle separation processes, including its uncertainties, as currently researched in the interdisciplinary Particle Fate Modelling research group.

Current developments

Data mining platform

We developed a system that allows for consistently storing detailed raw materials characterization data, collected from different analytical methods (e.g. XRF, XRD, Automated Mineralogy, and X-ray computer tomography). By bringing all data into this unique data mining platform we want to ease the complete evaluation of material streams.

Foto: Komponenten der Analyseplattform: Ac2My verbindet Datenquellen mit dem SQL-Server; gmMLA ist ein geometallurgisches Berechnungspaket für R, die Open-Source-Statistikumgebung. ©Copyright: HZDR/HIF
Components of the analysis platform: Ac2My connects data sources to the SQL server; gmMLA is a geometallurgical calculation package for R, the open source statistical environment. Source: HZDR/HIF

Through an in-house developed front-end R interface users will in the future be able to import, visualize and interprete case study data anywhere in the world. All in all, the system will enable the user to access and handle complete ore characterization datasets in a structured way, regardless of the analytical method applied, the number of samples used, and the complexity of their relationships.

Foto: In-house developed front-end R interface ©Copyright: HZDR/HIF

Case study example applied in our in-house developed front-end R interface, Source: HZDR/HIF


Modelling techniques for particle behaviour

Foto: Kerndichteschätzungen (Schach et al., 2019) ©Copyright: HZDR/HIF

We also developed various modelling techniques (e.g., with kernel density estimates) to understand and predict the process behaviour of individual particles in any particle separation device (e.g., flotation). All particle information collected is used in order to make predictive models truly acknowledge material complexity, to help identify suitable process parameters for individual feed materials, and to minimize costs of later metallurgical studies.

Precisely, our methods helps to

  • understand the processing behaviour of complex materials;
  • simulate complete processing plants with particle separation circuits tailored to the specific raw material;
  • and model single particle flotation kinetics.

3D characterization of individual particles

Foto: 3D Bild eines zerkleinerten Karbonatgesteins mit Seltenen Erden (rot) ©Copyright: HZDR/HIF

3D image of a crushed REE (red) bearing carbonate rock, HZDR/HIF

So far, particle characterization has mainly progressed in 2D. However, complete geometric information that a 3D body such as a particle posses are hardly available. That is why, we also develop techniques to characterize the size, shape, and composition of individual particles in 3D. Using X-ray computed micro-tomography to do so, does not only allow us to collect detailed 3D particle particles but to also push the boundaries of mineral identification. The collected data should additionally be suitable for a direct transfer into our particle-based separation models.


Our group continously works to expand its understanding and tools for minerals processing with special focus on material complexity.

Some of our current projects include:

  • particle-based comminution prediction
  • researching the influence of particle shapes on the flotation process
  • optimization of flotation circuits based on single particles characteristics

Supported research activities



Related publications

  • Computing single-particle flotation kinetics using automated mineralogy data and machine learning
    Lucas Pereira, Max Frenzel, Duong Huu Hoang, Raimon Tolosana-Delgado, Martin Rudolph, Jens Gutzmer
    Minerals Engineering, Volume 170, 2021,
  • Mounted Single Particle Characterization for 3D Mineralogical Analysis—MSPaCMAn
    Godinho, J.R.A.; Grilo, B.L.D.; Hellmuth, F.; Siddique, A.
    Minerals 2021, 11,
  • A self-adaptive particle-tracking method for minerals processing
    Lucas Pereira, Max Frenzel, Mahdi Khodadadzadeh, Raimon Tolosana-Delgado, Jens Gutzmer
    Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 279, 2021,
  • Multidimensional characterization of separation processes – Part 2: Comparability of separation efficiency,
    Minerals Engineering
    Markus Buchmann, Edgar Schach, Thomas Leißner, Marius Kern, Thomas Mütze, Martin Rudolph, Urs A. Peuker, Raimon Tolosana-Delgado
    Minerals Engineering, Volume 150, 2020,
  • R as an environment for data mining of process mineralogy data: A case study of an industrial rougher flotation bank
    Nathalie Kupka, Raimon Tolosana-Delgado, Edgar Schach, Kai Bachmann, Thomas Heinig, Martin Rudolph
    Minerals Engineering, Volume 146, 2020,
  • Multidimensional characterization of separation processes – Part 1: Introducing kernel methods and entropy in the context of mineral processing using SEM-based image analysis
    Edgar Schach, Markus Buchmann, Raimon Tolosana-Delgado, Thomas Leißner, Marius Kern, K. Gerald van den Boogaart, Martin Rudolph, Urs A. Peuker
    Minerals Engineering, Volume 137, 2019,