The prediction of acid rock drainage and metal leaching (ARDML) from mine sites requires a detailed understanding of the site specific rates and mechanisms of weathering.
Petrolab specialises in automated mineralogy, including ore characterisation, geometallurgy, gold deportment studies, routine plant monitoring and auditing.
Suitable for exploration, geotechnical studies, mine planning or concrete for civil engineering projects, we provide petrographic investigation and characterisation on a wide range of grab samples, drill cuttings and diamond drill core.
Petrolab also offers metallurgical consultancy and operate a commercial thin section and sample preparation laboratory.
Automated mineralogy and petrography analysis solutions for mines
Automated mineralogy and petrography refer to analytical solutions based on scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS).
Petrolab uses these technologies to offer a fast and quantitative assessment of mineralogy and texture. The company runs the state-of-the-art Zeiss Mineralogic mining platform, a next generation tool to the Quantitative Evaluation of Materials by Scanning Electron Microscopy (QEMSCAN) system.
The highly versatile platform allows configurable X-ray scanning modes that include line scan, feature scan, spot centroid and mapping. This allows us to provide a customised analysis to address our client’s mineralogical questions, with a core focus on concise reporting and database / plant historian integration.
Automated mineralogy is typically used to report on:
- Modal mineralogy and metal(s)
- Deportment of the target
- Mineral locking and association
- Particle and grain size distribution
- Bright phase search (e.g. for gold or contaminants)
- Ore and gangue characterisation
- Regular mineral processing circuit audits to enhance efficiency
- Metallurgical problem solving and test work
Optical microscopy petrography
Optical microscopy is a cost-effective method of providing information on ore concentrates and exploration prospects. These include clarification of current mineral phases, textural controls, modal abundance and estimated deportment of key metals.
The technology includes transmission, reflected light and fluorescence microscopy, and can also be used in conjunction with automated techniques.
Petrolab’s personnel has extensive experience in using petrographic microscopes to identify and interpret a wide range of sample types, including aggregates, stone, slate, concretes, mortar and smelter slags.
Materials testing capabilities
Petrolab uses microscopic and macroscopic analysis techniques such as visual examination, transmitted and reflected light thin section observations. We also use methods such as chemical testing and scanning electron microscopy to create comprehensive reports.
Our standard range of reports cover the examination of reservoir rocks to evaluate porosity and texture; the evaluation of quarried rocks as potential for aggregate and other end uses; and conformance testing of aggregate stockpiles to identify lithologies and consistency.
We also run tests to verify conformance and/or degradation of slate roofing tiles; and the examination of potential repair material to match existing building stones.
All testing is performed by Petrolab in line with relevant industry standards such as British Standards (BS) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
Materials preparation services
Petrolab offers a materials preparation service that produces petrographic thin sections, polished blocks from samples and specimens of rock, drill core, aggregate, concrete and other similar materials.
We also offer quality control and troubleshooting courses for other thin section labs.
Our commercial thin section facility uses a Pelcon Automatic Thin Section Machine to develop high-quality sections from aggregate, concrete and rock. Fixed diamond abrasives are used to produce flat, uniform sections with high preservation of microscopic fine detail, as well as ensure that the finished section is not contaminated with carborundum powder.
This case study briefly highlights the potential to derive, in an approximate sense, likely processing behaviour from geological reconstructions.
This paper describes the ZEISS Mineralogic Mining capabilities and workflow, and provides an example of correlating these techniques for locating and identifying Base Metal Sulphides (BMS) and Platinum-Group Minerals (PGM) from a PGE-bearing chromitite prospect.
The Kansanshi mine in Zambia is the eight largest copper mine in the world, with two open pits. The property is located nearly 10km north of the Solwezi town and 180km northwest of the Copperbelt town of Chingola.