About Automated Mineralogy

Automated mineralogy is a field that has seen significant growth and development in recent years. At its core, automated mineralogy involves the use of specialized instruments and software to analyse and identify minerals within a sample, often with a focus on ore deposits and other minerals of economic interest.

One key tool in the field of automated mineralogy is the automated mineral identification and characterization system (AMICS). AMICS systems use a combination of techniques, including X-ray fluorescence, to identify and quantify the minerals present in a sample. These systems are highly accurate and can identify minerals with a high degree of precision, even at very low concentrations.

One major benefit of AMICS is its speed and efficiency. Traditional methods of mineral analysis can be time-consuming and labour-intensive, requiring multiple steps and expert interpretation. In contrast, AMICS systems can analyse a sample in just a few hours, providing quick and reliable results. This has made AMICS a valuable tool for mineral exploration and mining companies, as well as researchers studying a disperse range of mineral systems.

In addition to their speed and accuracy, AMICS using XRF analysis has several other benefits. X-ray fluorescence is non-destructive, meaning that it can analyse a sample without damaging it, allowing for multiple analyses to be performed on the same sample. It is also relatively low maintenance, with minimal sample preparation required and minimal operator intervention needed during the analysis process.

As an example, here at Portable Spectral Services a scan of a lower saprolite was undertaken using the Bruker M4 TORNADO PLUS in order to process automated mineralogy. The parameters used for this scan were a pixel size of 40µm, a dwell time of 30ms/pixel and high voltage and anode current at 45kV and 600µA respectively. Figure 1 displays elemental intensity maps for key elements of interest.

Figure 1. Ni intensity map (a), and Ca intensity map (b).

Utilising the spectral data in AMICS – such as analysing element peak ratios, performing energy filtering, count clustering, and spectral matching – a spectral geologist can interpret the data, separate spectral signatures, and classify mineralogy. This information is quantifiable in a 2D setting and can be displayed in area percentage, as seen below in figure 2, which displays the final mineralogy map for the chosen sample.

Figure 2. Mineralogy image for the lower saprolite sample.

Despite the many advantages of AMICS, there are also some limitations to the technology. One major challenge is the cost of the instruments and software, which can be significant. This can make it difficult for smaller companies or research groups to access the technology. Fortunately, Portable Spectral Services offers commercial analysis to clients using micro-XRF and AMICS as an affordable solution. 

In addition, AMICS systems are not yet able to identify all minerals, with some rare or exotic minerals remaining challenging to identify. However, AMICS has the ability to increase on the size of its mineral library. It currently has the known spectra for over 5000 minerals, but additional mineral spectra can be added to its library to expand on this.

The future potential of automated mineralogy and AMICS is significant. One key area of growth is in the use of AMICS for real-time analysis during mineral processing and refining. By analysing the minerals present in the ore as it is processed, companies can optimize their operations and improve efficiency. This can lead to significant cost savings and improved profitability.

Another area of potential growth is in the use of AMICS for environmental monitoring and remediation. By identifying the minerals present in soil and water samples, a spectral geologist using AMICS can help to identify potential contaminants and track the effectiveness of remediation efforts. This could be particularly valuable in areas with a history of mining or other industrial activity.

Overall, the use of AMICS and automated mineralogy is set to continue to grow and expand in the coming years. As the technology improves and becomes more widely available, it will become an increasingly valuable tool for a range of industries and applications.

If you are interested in having your own sample analysed by micro-XRF, or would like more information on AMICS, contact Portable Spectral Services at [email protected].

For more information on micro-XRF spectroscopy visit www.microxrf.com.au/

Recent Articles

The Tiny Powerhouses: Pumpkin Seeds

Findings of an ongoing regional evaluation study over concealed Proterozoic lithologies known to host magmatic nickel sulphides with potential to host other base-metal, gold and rare earth elements (“REE”) systems within the Fraser Range, Western Australia.

Read More »

Exploring Rare Earth Elements

Demand for Rare Earth Elements (REE) continues to increase as the globe migrates to renewable energy. Exploration for REE have significantly increased over the last

Read More »

About Automated Mineralogy

Automated mineralogy is a field that has seen significant growth and development in recent years. At its core, automated mineralogy involves the use of specialized

Read More »

Now Available

Portable Spectral Services’ Schedule of Hire, Support Services & Fees is now available!

Enquire Now