Process Mineralogy Today

A discussion resource for process mineralogy using todays technologies


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Category: QEMSCAN

Considerations with QEMSCAN Grain Size Estimation

Most SEM-EDS systems have the ability to compute grain size. Not all systems use the same computational methods and we advise that you familiarise yourself with the details of your system of choice. In the case of QEMSCAN the presence of fine-grained inclusions in the mineral of interest (e.g.: a major ore-forming mineral like chalcopyrite, or key minerals in sedimentary systems such as quartz) has an affect on the computed mineral grain size, therefore, care must be taken when using automated grain size calculations.   ...

Have you measured enough particles?

One of the key questions about SEM-EDS data is whether or not you’ve measured enough particle sections to produce a representative result. The critical part to remember is that SEM-EDS data are collected on particle sections exposed in a sample block, which is unlike other bulk analysis techniques such as XRF or XRD. It follows that the data from any one particle section is inherently biased and not a true representation of the character of the sample. Only a population of particle sections are able to provide accurate information. Adequate particle statistics are critical for applications such as operational mineralogy where liberation, grain size and mineral associations play a key role in mineral processing behaviour.  The question is, how many particle sections are enough? ...


The most common approach to assessing the accuracy of QEMSCAN mineralogy results is to compare the measured assay with the mineralogy-computed chemical assay. In this method we assume the measured assay results are the correct values, which means we also assume that the sub-samples used for chemical assay and QEMSCAN analysis are identical, or equally representative, and that the SEM-EDS sample preparation procedure has not introduced any bias. However, the nature of QEMSCAN data means that is quite easy to achieve an acceptable reconciliation of less than 10 or 15% (depending on the element) with very different mineralogy results. ...

Three areas that may affect the quality of your mineralogy data


The complex nature of QEMSCAN mineralogy results necessitates a thorough assessment of data quality relative to ‘best practices’ values. The MinAssist data validation service makes use of additional data that you can request from your commercial service provider or, if available, are assessable within the QEMSCAN datastores. We interrogate these data to provide an assessment of the three main aspects affecting you the quality of your mineralogy results:


Sample preparation,


Measurement setup, and


Reconciliation between assay and mineralogy results.


Sample preparation and measurement setup are critical steps that can introduce errors into a QEMSCAN analytical program. Associated errors can be identified through careful investigation of the relevant data.



Do you rely on routine SEM-EDS mineral analysis to monitor or drive process development and operational optimisation? Have you ever considered the reliability and consistency of your mineralogy data? The current framework for validating mineralogy results is often not visible to the end-user and in many instances inadequate to form a clear understanding of data quality. To address these shortcomings MinAssist has developed a new solution to reduce risk and give you more confidence in your SEM-EDS results so that you can focus on the interpretation and application of the data.  ...

Flotation mineralogy: Valid and Valuable?

Following on to the conclusion of another successful MEI conference, Flotation ’13, some interesting comments and feedback have emerged that highlight the continuing interest in and need for mineralogical data in understanding flotation response – and some of the challenges that emerge from trying to obtain that.


Barry Wills’ blog of 18th November 2013 refers back to the prediction made by Professor Dee Bradshaw at Flotation ’11 that chemistry would dominate discussions; and how she has seen that shift to a point where mineralogy dominates at Flotation ’13.  This point is further underlined by Dr Chris Greet (30th November 2013), who also makes the essential connection between the realisation of the value of mineralogy, and the hurdles encountered in generating and utilising valid mineralogical data correctly.  Chris sights three commonly encountered hurdles:


1) Turn-around time
2) Expense
3) Validity


Flotation_Valid and valuable Time to Result AND Validity of Result – does it have to be a trade-off?


Whats new in Process Mineralogy Technology: The QEMSCAN EXpress

QEMSCAN EXpressAt Process Mineralogy Today we like to keep abreast of what is happening in the world of Process Mineralogy.  A key tool in our field that has driven the development of Process Mineralogy over the last 3 decades are automated mineralogy systems and it is excellent to see that a wider range of solutions are being produced that move away from the research oriented full SEM based systems to more useable options.


One of the key industry players, FEI Natural Resources, has announced the release of the latest in their series of automated mineralogy tools – the bench-top QEMSCAN EXpress.  This follows a big year of releases from FEI, with the MLA EXpress a few months ago, and the release of the rugged MineSite systems.  FEI now offers a trilogy of platforms for the QEMSCAN and MLA, from the high-end laboratory system, to the affordable bench-top system, to the rugged mobile platform for remote locations.  This is great news for the industry as it offers a wider range of fit for purpose systems that can service anything from a high-end research laboratory to a mine-site laboratory. ...

Australian Gold Processing – Trans IMM C special issue

A special issue of Trans IMM C: Minerals Processing and Extractive Metallurgy was published in December focussing on recent advances in the Australian gold industry.


MinAssist was delighted to have our paper, “The use of QEMSCAN in practical gold deportment studies“, included in this special issue.  We encourage anyone interested in the Australian gold industry to have a look at the content of the special issue and see the excellent work that is being done to advance gold processing and our understanding of gold deposits in Australia.  A full list of the papers included can be found through Ingenta Connect or for AusIMM members it can be found through the AusIMM portal.


If anyone has any questions relating to our paper or general questions about how MinAssist can help you with your gold project feel free to contact us anytime.

Mineralogical ore typing by QEMSCAN

Welcome back! I apologise for the long delay between posts. Things have been busy at MinAssist and the blossoming mining industry has kept demand for value added mineralogical analysis high and time for sharing our thoughts low.

Today I wanted to share some more thoughts on the usefulness of ore typing to mining and mineral processing operations. I have recently been working on a the beginnings of a geometallurgical program for an open pit operation where the whole processing chain from mining, through processing and to smelting is included. This has given me a unique opportunity to view ore typing from the perspective that although the mill is the direct customer of the mines ore types, consideration must be made for the effect that changing ore type can have on products fed to a smelter.


A greater understanding of your process by mineralogical ore characterisation

Ore characterisation is a very broad term that is viewed differently by geologists, mineralogists and metallurgists.  It does however fundamentally cover the concept of defining the building blocks of an ore, giving insight into how best to deal with it.


The use of process mineralogy in comprehensive ore characterisation has always been a benchmark application.  The depth of understanding that mineralogy can give us into the fundamental parameters of an ore can be invaluable in devising the most effective method for winning value from it.  The advent of new mineralogical technologies, such as the e-beam based QEMSCAN and MLA, has made this even more accessible, opening up possibilities for comprehensive characterisation of ores at any stage in the mine life cycle.