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Electron Microscopy Solutions

Metallurgical Testing and Flow Sheet Design

Quantitative mineralogy solutions for metallurgical testing

Metallurgical testing is a key element of ore feasibility studies, laboratory scale comminution and flotation experimentation designed to asses ore recoverability and determine the most economical flow sheet design. Flow sheet design and optimization are most effectively and efficiently achieved through the use of metallurgical test work combined with quantitative mineralogical techniques such as automated mineralogy. Mineral liberation in particular is a key particle property that is required in any metallurgical testing, and hence metallurgical testing is a major use case for automated mineralogy laboratory systems, both at metallurgical technology centers of the mining companies, as well as metallurgical testing service providers.

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. 

Products for Metallurgical Testing and Flow Sheet Design

MLA 650 SEM for Minerals & Mining
A laboratory-based, automated petrography analyzer, the FEI MLA 650 scanning electron microscope (SEM) was initially developed for the mining industry. It serves mineralogy, petrology and metallurgy use cases in a range of natural resources industries, including mining and geoscience institutes.

MLA 650F SEM for Minerals & MInining
A high-speed automated mineralogy analyzer widely used in the mining industry to optimize the performance of mineral processing operations, the FEI MLA 650F scanning electron microscope (SEM) reduces sample analysis turnaround time from days to hours, when compared to traditional automated mineralogy analyzers. This allows operators to increase metal recovery by responding faster and more frequently to changes in feed and waste stream mineralogy.
QEMSCAN 650 SEM for Minerals & Mining
A laboratory-based, automated petrography analyzer, initially developed for the mining industry, the FEI QEMSCAN 650 SEM serves mineralogy petrology and metallurgy use cases in a wide range of natural resources industries, including mining, oil and gas, and geoscience institutes.
QEMSCAN 650F SEM for Minerals & Mining
A laboratory-based, automated petrography analyzer, initially developed for the mining industry, the FEI QEMSCAN 650F SEM serves mineralogy petrology and metallurgy use cases in a wide range of natural resources industries, including mining, oil and gas, and geoscience institutes.

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