Ore and ore-waste characterisation
GEUS has considerable experience in element mapping of mineral grains and in the study of the distribution of different minerals within ores and waste materials. This characterisation is fundamental to plan and optimise mining and beneficiation processes, as orebodies become increasingly complex, both mineralogically and texturally, while their exploitation faces increasing environmental constraints with regards to penalty elements. Automated analytical mineralogy on the scanning electron microscope (SEM) constitutes a key technique which GEUS continues to develop and explore new applications for.
An example of a well-established type of analytical work is the investigation, with the SEM, of heavy-mineral sands from, for example, beaches for their economic mineral content (ilmenite, zircon, garnet, rutile, monazite). We can analyse the grain morphology (grain size, grain shape), the mineralogy and the bulk chemistry of the sample. For individual minerals, minor element concentrations can be investigated.
This same technique has also been applied to kimberlite indicator minerals, where we proved that automated analytical mineralogy on the SEM can be used instead of the electron microprobe, which gives a considerable time-saving advantage.