The usage of automated materials characterization, particularly MLA and QEMSCAN, to mineral processing products was one of the first fields of application of this technology. In a processing plant two important cases of application are practicable. Automated materials characterization can be applied for a single processing step or product to get a detailed characterization of this. An example for this is the analysis of a final concentrate to assess its quality and potential price. However, of greater value is to perform a systematic survey on specific parts of the plant such as the flotation circuit. By a non-optimized processing plant a company loses significant amounts of money. By the analysis of several processing streams you gain a better understanding of the processing circuit.

In contrast to a simple chemical assay or a quantitative X-ray powder diffraction analysis an automated materials characterization by MLA and QEMSCAN provides not only the elemental or mineralogical composition of the sample. In addition you obtain valuable information related to elemental distribution/deportment as well as mineral locking and mineral association. This information will assist you to understand the relationships between the valuable minerals and the gangue within the samples. Physical properties obtained by the analysis include the distribution of particle densities as well as particle size and mineral grain size information.

Particular parameters interesting for plant performance which can be achieved from automated materials characterization are theoretical mineral grade / recovery data, theoretical elemental grade / recovery data and mineral liberation information. The latter can be differentiated into mineral liberation by particle composition and mineral liberation by free surface. By assessing these parameters an intense examination regarding effectiveness of the technical process route can be conducted and critical shortcomings can be uncovered. The possibility to look at overview images of the samples ('mineral maps') and lined up images of specific mineral groups is a further advantage of the methodology in the field of processing.

Flotation Cell (© Jens Gutzmer / HZDR)
Flotation Froth (© Dirk Sandmann / TU Bergakademie Freiberg)
Ore Mill (© Jens Gutzmer / HZDR)