NUCOMAT systems make it possible to implement most of the manual wet chemistry methods in automated mode, with subsequent spectral analysis (AA, ICP, MS, etc.).

NUCOMAT automated blocks are currently in operation at the fire-assay analytical laboratory at South Urals Gold Company, Russia, to perform sample preparation for analysis with atomic absorption ending.

We talk to Thermo Techno Group Business Development Director Elena Terebkova about the company’s partnership with NUCOMAT:

  • Tell us more about Thermo Techno Group

Thermo Techno Engineering is a leading provider of automated laboratory solutions in Russia, with 20 years of expertise in sales, engineering, methodological and technical support.

  • When and why did you choose Nucomat as an automation supplier?

Nucomat and Thermo Techno have been partners in laboratory automation in Russia for more than five years.

When choosing a partner in wet chemistry automation, we considered the level of expertise in this field, engineering talent, reliability and customer service.  It became obvious that there was and still is no other company on the market that we would trust more than the Nucomat team.

  • Have there been any notable projects that benefited from your partnership and how has Nucomat’s automation solutions affected your customers?

In 2018, we completed the automation of fire-assay analytical laboratory at the South-Urals Gold Company. The laboratory has become one of the first ones in Russia to achieve such a high level of innovation in increasing lab productivity, as well as automation of sample preparation processes and fire-assay analysis. Existing fire-assay methodologies of analysis were successfully adapted for automation of the most labour-intensive routine operations.

NUCOMAT automated four blocks/modules, which currently perform sample preparation for analysis with atomic absorption ending.

Operations of dissolution of gold and determination of its concentration in the solution by atomic absorption method are implemented in two modules. Each module can process as many as 1,200 samples per day. Main features of these modules are weight metering of reagents, controlled temperature of decomposition, and accurate decomposition time counting, which is controlled by the software.

Modernisation of the lab allowed  South-Urals Gold company to significantly decrease the overall time of collecting statistical data and performing analysis, to triple sample throughput and achieve full transparency in gathering results at each stage of the analytical cycle. Specialists can now access information about geological and technological samples in online mode.

  • How is your experience with regards to the reliability and accuracy of the automated systems?

Errors have been eliminated – all operations for adding reagents during dissolution, tracking dissolution parameters (time and temperature) are performed automatically. The units are completely isolated, excluding the possibility of acids and acids’ vapour penetrating the operator’s space.

The chief of the lab, chief geologist, chief technologist receive statistical data and results on their mobile devices, which allow them to make prompt and time-critical decisions at all stages from geological to mining and production.

From the customer’s perspective, the most important result of the automation is the 3 Ts – they have confidence that the data on the chemical composition of the ores is True, Timely and Transparent.

  • Has automated infrastructure made a difference during the COVID-19 crisis?

During the COVID crisis, the laboratory at the South Urals Gold company is continuing to work without disruptions, the sample volume has even substantially increased, which would normally require more people if the lab was not automated.  As the number of specialists required to operate the system is limited and they work in shifts with 1-2 people per room, the possibility for spreading virus has been minimized.

About the companies:

  • Nucomat provides tailor-made automation solutions for sample preparation in laboratories.
  • Thermo Techno is a provider of automated laboratory solutions in Russia.