Geology and Mining areas are of significant economic and technological importance in providing the essential raw materials (ores, minerals) for industrial processing and for applications in our day-to-day usage. Their exploration, beneficiation and processing depend critically on their chemical and mineralogical quality which determines their value for downstream applications. Whether it is in a central laboratory involved in geochemical and mineralogical analysis or at a mine site qualification of the ore bodies, various analytical techniques are indispensable to characterize major, minor and trace elements together with their phase/mineral composition.
X-ray diffraction (XRD) is a versatile and nondestructive analytical technique that can quickly obtain detailed structural and phase information of materials. XRD analysis provides qualitative and quantitative mineral or phase information in a wide range of geological materials explored in a research laboratory or processed for an industrial application.
X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), on the other hand, provides elemental analysis (geochemical analysis) of the same material to complement the mineralogy obtained by XRD. XRF is ideally suited for the quantitative analysis of majors, minors and trace elements from B to U and from few parts per million to % levels.
Both XRF and XRD are well established analytical techniques in industrial (cement, metals, mining, petrochemicals etc.), applied and research laboratories alongside other techniques such as ICP/MS or ICP/OES for trace elemental analysis or FT-IR, Raman, Electron Microscope for structural analysis.
Here are some articles we have published that address the how XRD and XRF are used in mineral analysis to help improve the products we use every day.
- The Importance of Metallurgical Slags and Their Evaluation
Smelting, the process of extracting base metals from their natural states (ores), has been used since the bronze age to create precious and useful metals. Ore is decomposed in smelting with heat and a chemical reducing agent such as calcium, driving off other elements as gases or slag and leaving the metal base behind. Due to the intrinsic value of slag, it is important that analytical tools are available to identify and quantify the chemical composition in slag. Read about how X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) provides a rapid, reliable and repeatable solution to measure slag.
- Looking at Rubidium, Pyrotechnics and Metallic Salts with XRD
Metal salts, known as pyrotechnic colorizers, give specific colors to the pyrotechnic discharge. Rubidium nitrate is a white crystalline powder that is highly soluble in water and very slightly soluble in acetone. In a flame test, RbNO3 gives a mauve/light purple color. This article discusses the dynamic study done of the compound rubidium nitrate (RbNO3) using X-ray diffraction and a specialized sample chamber designed for high temperatures. The study examines the changes to this compound as it is heated from room temperature to 310°C, the melting point.
- The Relationship Between Mining and Sintering
The only source of primary iron is iron ore, but before all that iron ore can be turned into steel, it must go through the sintering process. Sinter is created by mixing iron ore concentrate with several additives such as limestone and silica to control the chemistry and then igniting it at 1200°C in a continuous belt-fed furnace. Sinter quality begins with the proper selection and mixing of the raw materials. Inhomogeneous raw mix can affect permeability and cause an increase in fuel consumption. Sintering process fluctuations, inhomogeneous mixtures, and other parameters affect productivity, physical and metallurgical quality, and raw material consumption and costs. Read about the application of on-line elemental analysis for control of sinter feed basicity.
- New Minerals Capture CO2 in Mine Waste
To accurately identify minerals within tailings, geologists may use analytical technologies including both laboratory and portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) instruments. Portable XRF analyzers provide fast, accurate analysis of tailings to quickly and easily gauge the efficiency of extraction and enrichment processes. The real-time assay data provided by a portable XRF analyzer allows for timely process adjustments and productivity improvements.
- Precious Element Analysis in Lead and Zinc Processing using X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry
During sintering, a blast of hot air or oxygen is used to oxidize the sulfur present in the feed to sulfur dioxide (SO2). Blast furnaces are used in conventional processes for reduction and refining of lead compounds to produce lead bullion. This refining process removes any remaining nonlead materials (e.g., gold, silver, bismuth, zinc, and metal oxides such as oxides of antimony, arsenic, tin, and copper). While the gold and silver are considered to be pollutants in the refinement process, these elements can be more profitable than the primary ore elements. It is for this reason that the accurate trace analysis for silver and gold in the ore material is essential. Read why the quickest and best method for this analysis is wavelength dispersive x-ray fluorescence.
- XRD And XRF Investigation of Martian Analog Basalt From Terrestrial Craters
Terrestrial analogs to Martian geologic conditions are being employed in combination with data collected over the various Martian rover and satellite expeditions ongoing since the 1960’s to characterize the physiological and chemical properties of Mars. Read about the experiment that utilized both XRD and XRF technology, on a sample of basalt collected from craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA. The article outlines how when the two technologies are paired, a complete synergistic analysis of the alkaline basalt sample can be obtained.
- Watch the on-demand webinar: Enhancing productivity and value of mineral sources using XRD and XRF