Real-time ore sorting using color and texture analysis

David G. Shatwell, Victor Murray, Augusto Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Sensor-based ore sorting is a technology used to classify high-grade mineralized rocks from low-grade waste rocks to reduce operation costs. Many ore-sorting algorithms using color images have been proposed in the past, but only some validate their results using mineral grades or optimize the algorithms to classify rocks in real-time. This paper presents an ore-sorting algorithm based on image processing and machine learning that is able to classify rocks from a gold and silver mine based on their grade. The algorithm is composed of four main stages: (1) image segmentation and partition, (2) color and texture feature extraction, (3) sub-image classification using neural networks, and (4) a voting system to determine the overall class of the rock. The algorithm was trained using images of rocks that a geologist manually classified according to their mineral content and then was validated using a different set of rocks analyzed in a laboratory to determine their gold and silver grades. The proposed method achieved a Matthews correlation coefficient of 0.961 points, higher than other classification algorithms based on support vector machines and convolutional neural networks, and a processing time under 44 ms, promising for real-time ore sorting applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-674
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Mining Science and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Image color analysis
  • Image texture analysis
  • Machine learning
  • Ore sorting


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