Identification of minerals and process mineralogy

Identification of minerals is one of the most key activities in the implementation of many stages of an industrial project in the field of mineral processing and extractive metallurgy. These steps can include discovery, pre-feasibility assessment, feasibility, process design, process monitoring and process optimization. The purpose of identifying a mineral is to measure all its characteristics that affect the results of the described steps from discovery to monitoring the process. These characteristics can include mechanical characteristics, chemical composition, mineral composition, density, grain size, the way minerals are intermingled, or in other words, their construction and texture, and other characteristics.

What makes this company distinguished from others in the field of analysis and studies for the identification of minerals is that it is performed in a project-oriented manner, so that at the beginning, for each specific project, according to the type of mineral and the purpose of the tests, Methodology is carried out so that the tools Suitable for measuring these characteristics should be determined according to the type of mineral and the purpose. For example, in the traditional point of view, in many projects when it comes to the chemical analysis of a mineral, all attention goes to conventional analyzes such as XRF and ICP-MS, while in some cases it is possible to use better, newer and even cheaper tools, According to the type of mineral, in order to increase the accuracy of the results and also reduce the time and cost of the projects.
Therefore, in this company, in accordance with the characteristics and goals of the project, the required Methodology will be done first, and after designing the experiments using different methods, the experiments will be performed and the results will be analyzed. Using traditional and modern tools to analyze identification results such as statistics, data mining, and artificial intelligence, as well as element-to-mineral conversion (EMC), can greatly help in increasing the quality and accuracy of the results, as well as reducing the cost and time required for conducting identification tests. This company is ready to provide mineral identification and process mineralogy services to its customers by having various tools to perform identification tests in their laboratories, as well as experts in the fields of statistics, data mining and artificial intelligence. In the following paragraph, a brief description of the instrumentation, design of experiments, and analysis of the results of the identification experiments conducted in this company is provided.

A- Methodology

          Methodology is the first step in the field of mineral identification that is carried out in this company. Methodology means identifying the required methods and tools to measure mineral properties according to the purpose, volume, accuracy, time and expected cost. The means of methodology characteristic may be different for each type of mineral or for different purposes. For example, Fire Assay and Diagnostic Leaching methods can be used to measure the amount of gold and important elements (such as arsenic and iron) in placer gold deposits that affect the gold extraction process, while to measure the amount of gold in the sulfide phase, The direct method which is using tools such as SEM-EDS or TEM linear analysis, and the indirect method of Fire Assay is used after the release of gold using methods such as chlorination, roasting, etc.

As another example, when the measurement of band grinding index is desired for a mineral sample and for a large number of samples, this company is able to use a novel methods instead of the conventional method that requires about 20 kg of samples and about one day of laboratory work. This novel method, which is available in the laboratory of this company, reached the same results in a time of about 3 to 4 hours and with a sample amount of about 250 grams. Therefore, Methodology and the use of up-to-date and optimal methods have a great impact on the accuracy, cost and time of conducting tests, which is given special attention in this company.

B- Design of experiments

The design of identification tests is done with the aim of reducing the cost and time needed to identify the mineral as well as extracting the maximum required data from them. In this step, The design of identification experiments, the number of tests, how to do it and how to combine their results with each other to extract new parameters using process mineralogy knowledge is done. In some situations, unmeasured parameters can be obtained from other measured parameters. Therefore, when experiments are designed, they can be designed to give maximum direct and indirect output.

For example, when performing two chemical analyzes of ten oxides by lithium borate fusion method and multi-element analysis by ICP-MS method for 1000 samples, lithium borate fusion can be performed for all and ICP-MS for some of them and the remaining samples can be estimated with high accuracy using tools such as machine learning and artificial intelligence and proved the accuracy and correctness of its results with different methods.

C- Examining and analyzing the results of identification tests

Examining and analyzing the results of identification tests has different purposes. The first and most important goal is to verify the results of the measurements and check the quality and accuracy of the identification tests. This purpose is done by using different statistical and data mining methods and representative sample test. Another goal of analyzing the identification results is to extract the maximum information and data that can be indirectly extracted from the measured data. For example, when the assay percentage of minerals in a mineral sample is required, the numerical value of the assay can be obtained by combining the results of elemental measurements and optical microscope studies and using mathematical calculations to convert the element to the mineral.

The final and main goal in analyzing the results of identification tests is to choose suitable and optimal processing methods.

Although what happens mostly, is the selection of processing methods according to conventional and traditional experiences, but in many cases, regardless of the method by which each mineral is conventionally processed, it is possible to use the results of identification tests to determine the processing methods. It is possible to chose the conventional or other possible method to conduct the required studies and experiments and estimated the conditions for conducting them.