The development of high throughput mineralogy
The connection between ore mineralogy and texture, and metallurgical performance was recognized in the 1970's, yet the volume of mineralogical and textural measurements arising from new insights in sampling techniques (e.g. on a size fraction basis) could not be met with traditional techniques. The development of high throughput, automated mineralogy QEMSCAN and MLA in the 1980's and 90's has addressed that challenge, and ore mineralogy and texture are now basic elements of what is known as Process Mineralogy. Ores from both green and brown fields are routinely submitted for metallurgical testing in conjunction with mineralogical and textural analysis using QEMSCAN or MLA to help assess recovery potential and flow sheet design of the ore in question.
Proven solutions for metallurgical testing
FEI's automated mineralogy systems support metallurgical testing and flow sheet design programs with a portfolio of laboratory systems, both QEMSCAN and MLA, on three different SEM platforms to suit throughput and resolution requirements for a range of ore types including iron ore, base and precious metals, and rare earth elements. Additionally, results are finding their way into industry publications and journals, inspiring investor confidence in the feasibility of green and brown fields.
Metallurgical testing, involving mineralogical and textural QEMSCAN or MLA measurements, have saved mining companies hundreds of millions dollars by preventing over-design of mineral processing facilities. Additionally, there are many documented cases where automated mineralogy assisted pilot-scale metallurgical testing of new flotation reagents have resulted in recovery increases in the order of 1%. On the scale of modern processing facilities, this translates into a huge return on investment for the enabling analytic and processing technologies.