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About Simera Trace


Simera Trace commercialises the ore quality and grade control capabilities developed by, and in collaboration with Kevin O’Neill of INNORFID.  Kevin founded the RFID Institute in 2001 as Africa’s leading vendor-neutral RFID centre.  The Institute provided education and expert professional services to all organisations intending to implement, or simply learn more about RFID.  Through the years, Kevin has developed RFID solutions for hundreds of companies across several industries. One of the more comprehensive RFID Platforms was built for the ore tracking industry in mines. In 2022 Kevin approached Simera to partner in unlocking the vast potential of ore tracking in the mining, energy and logistics industries.

About Simera Trace


Simera Trace commercialises the ore quality and grade control capabilities developed by, and in collaboration with Kevin O’Neill of INNORFID.  Kevin founded the RFID Institute in 2001 as Africa’s leading vendor-neutral RFID centre.  The Institute provided education and expert professional services to all organisations intending to implement, or simply learn more about RFID.  Through the years, Kevin has developed RFID solutions for hundreds of companies across several industries. One of the more comprehensive RFID Platforms was built for the ore tracking industry in mines. In 2022 Kevin approached Simera to partner in unlocking the vast potential of ore tracking in the mining, energy and logistics industries.


1.   Measure while drilling

Raw drilling machine measurements are taken, analysed and reported in real-time.  This enables real-time reporting on rock hardness and penetration rates.  This enables timely blast designs for optimal results.

2.   Sample Tracking

Digitally track samples from the pit to the lab. At the lab the samples are automatically read, registered and compared against the planned samples to be collected. This provides immediate confirmation whether there is compliance between the drilling plan and actual samples received. Increase sample recovery rates to 100%.

3.     Sample laboratory protocol compliance monitoring

The intregrity of the sample analysis certificate depends on whether the lab protocol is followed correctly.  The Sample Tracking Management System (STMS) not only tracks the movement of the samples through the lab, but also monitors who handles the samples, and whether the protocols are followed correctly. Only upon compliance with the protocol, is the sample certificate automatically issued. This certificate then becomes the identity of the specific batch of ore represented by the samples. STMS provides a verified digital identity for each batch of ore that can be traced at any stage of processing, stockpiling or transfer to End User.

This certificate information is then linked with the physical SimTracers added to the ore in the blast hole.  These SimTracers will accompany the ore throughout its entire life cycle, enabling the identification and digital tracking of the ore.

4.   Grade control management system (GSMS)

GCMS is an unique application which tracks material before and after the blasting of a block on a mine.  Tests have indicated that ore often shift up to 15 meters during blasting. Few mines take this into account, which often lead to the general term, “blind mining”.   Grade control is used within the mining process to provide quality checks and control the grade and variability of ore. 

5.     Preventing Ore-to-Waste and Waste-to-Plant

When ore is Tag and Traced, there is clarity about what is loading with every excavator load.  This means you can prevent dump trucks from deliberately or mistakenly deliver good ore to the waste dump, or waste to the processing plant.

6.     Stockpile mapping, ore blending and processing optimization

When the ore exits the production plant, its identity is read, and more tracers with the same identity can be added to ensure the ore body is well tagged throughout its life span. This means when ore is stockpiled, the stockpile can be mapped very accurately since the identity, quality and location of every batch in the stockpile is known. This enables accurate blending of ore to specific requirements.

Knowing what grade of ore enters the production facility, also enables the optimization of the processing plant.

Should the grade of a batch of ore change due to blending, the new identity from online analysers can be linked to the specific batch of ore.

7.     Ore security during transport

Every truck of ore can be seeded with unique tracers at its point of departure.  Upon arrival at its destination, the system automatically detects whether there was any tampering with the ore.  Only dedicated readers can communicate with the tracers, since they are password protected.  This makes it very difficult for perpetrators to detect and remove the tracers.  The system empowers you to know whether your ore was tampered with during transport. The digital audit trail provides secure evidence when prosecuting perpetrators.

8.     Ore sample certificate linked to ore body throughout the entire value chain

Once the ore samples are certified, that certificate becomes the digital identity of the ore body.  This identity accompanies the ore body from the point of blasting, throughout its value chain to final delivery or consumption.  The digital identity provides an audited trail for the ore body that enables ore data integration into digital system optimisation tools that enables Mining 4.0.

9.     Missing screen detection


Screens are used to split large oversized ore from smaller sizes. When a sieve screen panel dislodges, oversize ore mixes with the fine ore, and contaminates the grade. Missing screens are often only detected much later, which means an entire batch of ore would be contaminated. This would lead to end-user clients enforcing penalties on the entire batch of ore delivered due to non-conformance with specifications.


Our system detects dislodged screens within seconds. The moment a dislocated panel is detected, the feed conveyor to the screen is stopped. This limits the contamination of the ore in the discharge and avoids large penalties.

10.     Metal accounting

Digital ore tracking during the mining, crushing, stockpiling, grinding and transport phase assist in making metal accounting much more transparent and real-time reliable compared to existing techniques.

11.     Asset tracking with accountability

With smart overalls and a reader infrastructure in place, workers are linked with the tools and other assets they use.  When equipment gets lost, it is possible to track who was the last worker in possession of the tools. This builds in accountability to locate missing tools or equipment - or recover its costs. It also enables quick and easy inventory of all equipment and its location in the mine.

The system also enables equipment tracking to-and-from repair agents, major spares from stores to workplace to repair agents, and monitoring of strategic assets like LP gas bottle and fire extinguishers.

The result is an improved asset audit trail, automatic surveillance and improved inventory control and turnaround time management.

12.     Missing person location

Proposed changes to the Mine Health and Safety Act include the introduction of a mandatory missing person locating system.   This means that all underground mines and surface mines with a significant risk of slope failure must provide their workers with a device that enables the mine to locate workers if they go missing while working or during an emergency.

Using smart overalls, workers can be traced to their last position after slope failure.  This enables rescue teams to know exactly how many miners are trapped and where to search for them.  With a suitable tracing infrastructure underground, management will be able to manage their staff logistics in real-time, detect activity in prohibited areas, and do rapid PPE compliance verification at any point in the mine.

13.     Liquid petroleum security during transport

When transporting high value liquids, perpetrators often exchange some segments in the tanker with water.  Tampering can be detected with password protected tamper evidence tags which are scanned with hand-held scanners before departure and before delivery. 

14.   Ore tracking with digital ore trail


The ability to track ore digitally creates tremendous advantages. It prevents ore from being dumped as waste, and waste being crushed and processed. Identified and tracked ore also enable accurate management of stockpile grades and retention time.  Prior to processing, digitally tracked ore can be blended for optimal results. Finally, it enables the validation of ore identity during and after haulage to point of consumption or sale.   Creating a digital ore trail enables the digital simulation and optimization of processing plants and auditable trail of events from which intelligence can be derived.

Validated Results

Validated results

An RFID enabled Grade Control Management System (GCMS®) was developed and implemented at an iron ore mine in South Africa. 


Based on the Mine Trial results, it became clear that the RFID enabled GCMS® can track samples, measure blast movement, and track ore from Pit to Plant. This provided a substantial reduction in ore losses with an estimated improvement in annual revenue of US$200 million at two iron ore mines combined without taking into consideration the financial benefits that can be derived from the improved operational efficiencies.


The mine trial results suggests that the deployment of the GCMS® system to enable the primary applications described above would generate benefits more than sufficient to offset the cost of the deployment and that it would significantly enhance operational efficiencies, and reduce ore losses.

1.     Blast block moving measurement

Four blast blocks underwent Blast Movement Monitoring. Of the four blocks, three had ore/waste contacts, and one was entirely ore.  The results indicated:

  • Blast 1 - This blast contained a single ore/waste contact which moved perpendicular to the strike. Over 5,000 tonnes of dilution were induced by this movement, which cost the mine approximately US$250,000.

  • Blast 2 - Due in part to the absence of waste in this blast, blast monitoring movement tags were placed at various locations throughout the blast to obtain vertical profile information. All ore was recovered due to the absence of waste.

  • Blast 3 - The waste in the northwest half of the blast moved into the ore zone, which resulted in approximately 10,700 tonnes of waste being processed as ore. The estimated cost of this dilution is over US$534,000.

  • Blast 4 - This blast contained a single ore/waste contact. The blast was primarily ore, and this material moved into a waste zone, which results in ore being sent to the waste dump, or ore loss. The value of this lost ore was over US$565,000.


In summary, $1,35m (ZAR24m) worth of lost ore could have been recovered by using Blast Movement Monitoring in three blasts events.  The reason is that ore movement are often perpendicular to the blast striking direction.  Mines that measure blast movement, will therefore be able to recover ore at a higher accuracy rate.


2.     Iron Ore tracking

The test evaluated the ability to tag an ore body within the block pre blast and track the ore throughout the mining process from pit to plant and any further strategic location within the ore transfer process.  The results provided the following benefits:


  1. Residence Times - The ability to measure residence time between any two points. For example A2 material from one block took 38 days from the time it was blasted until it was discharged from the Buffer Stockpile.

  2. Stockpile Management - The GCMS® Ore Track system allows for Stockpile Management, which shows the latest grade that has been placed on the stockpile together with a date and time stamp.

  3. Ore blending – since you can determine what quality ore is in a particular stockpile, you can map it accurately.  This enables accurate ore blending.

  4. Retention Times - The retention time of a particular ore body, flowing through the Buffer Stockpile can be monitored.

  5. Ore to waste savings – the results indicated that on average 13% of ore is incorrectly dumped at the waste site.  At least 75% of this 13% loss can be prevented using the GCMS technology, and adding almost 10% to ore processed.


The ore tracking trial resulted in a projected net benefit of US$172m at a Return of Investment of 3 378%.  Similarly, this resulted in a net benefit of US$79m per annum at a Return of Investment of 4 439%.


3.     Sample tracking

Because of the frequency of incidents of losing samples, unidentifiable samples as well as the time lost during manually tracking and tracing of samples, the capacity of the Geology function is unable to keep up with that of the Mining function, resulting in periods of “ Blind Mining.”


The RFID Sample Tracking System involves the installation of a RFID label printer, a RFID Reader Portal at sample prep receiving, and a visual display unit, all networked to the GCMS® System.  A portable handheld device provides for manual sample search and auditing. The RFID enabled Sample Tracking System does not affect the current sample preparation process, but simply integrates automatic sample tracking and inventory control with real time notifications of missing samples.

This makes it possible to measure samples received vs samples planned in real-time. The samples are seamlessly integrated into the mine’s existing laboratory information system.  Sample recovery rate increases from 65% to 100% is common.


Test results indicated that, once blasted, a period of anything between two and four days, or 15% to 25% of mining time, can elapse during which the dispatchers and shovel operators are effectively mining blind.  During this time there is little or no certainty as to what grade of ore, if not waste, is being sent to the primary crusher and stockpile.


The result of this problem is most significant in two respects:

  • Ore dilution, and

  • Ore losses.

The placement of RFID tags in sample bags including source location and instructions facilitates the following benefits:

  • Reduced block classification time arising from;

  • Faster data capture,

  • More accurate data capture, and

  • Faster sample turnaround

This would help to ensure that the capacity of Geology matched the capacity of mining and that sample data was assigned to block maps prior to the commencement of mining.


4.     Sample preparation and analysis


There are several problems experienced with sampling at mines.

  • Planned samples get lost between the pit and the lab

  • Sample bag labels get wet and unreadable

  • Lab workers fail to record all samples into the lab information system

  • Lab protocols are not always followed which means inaccurate information is recorded on sample certificates.


Sample Tracking and Management System (STMS) is a RFID enabled solution to manage and track the sampling process of mining sector from block to lab. The STMS system involves the automatic identification, tracking and management of samples received and processed within the sample preparation plant.


The STMS system automatically identifies the worker managing the samples.  It measures and records all parameters during the sample preparation process, like:

  • The temperature of the oven and duration that the samples are in the oven.

  • Protocol compliance during crushing and splitting  

Only if full compliance with the protocol is achieved, will the system issue a sample certificate which is then linked to the block of ore that was mined. This block identity then accompanies the ore from the pit to final delivery.

Contact Us

For more information, contact us at:

Nicolas.Lategan[at] – Commercial
Kevin.Oneill[at] – Technical


Office address:

Simera Group office

Old Paardevlei Road

Somerset West

Cape Town


South Africa

Tel: +27 21 852 6450

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