Process Mineralogy Today

A discussion resource for process mineralogy using todays technologies


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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. 

SEM-EDS mineralogy data, such as those from QEMSCAN, MLA, TIMA, Mineralogic, and AMICS are fast becoming a key requirement for mining and mineral processing projects, in many instances as important as traditional assay data. However, the QAQC requirements we take for granted in assays are often overlooked for SEM-EDS data. In many cases simple assay reconciliation, a comparison between measured and computed chemical composition, is the only check for the quality of mineralogy data, yet we frequently base business-critical decisions on these data. Assay laboratories run standards and clients systematically submit their own standards to verify results. In comparison SEM-EDS analysis is unique in that it is conducted on two-dimensional sections of particles, which introduces a wide range of sample preparation and measurement factors that influence the results. As such the equivalent to assay standards do not exist for SEM-EDS data, which means the process to assess data quality is much more complicated. Data validation is however possible through careful assessment of several sample and measurement parameters to identify data inconsistencies.


MinAssist has developed a data validation procedure to assess primary QEMSCAN parameters using mineralogy and system data automatically collected during measurement. Our data validation service gives you the confidence that your sample blocks were prepared correctly, loaded into the instrument and measured correctly, and if the data used to calculate your final results were reproducible over multiple replicate blocks.


In a recent project MinAssist successful conducted a thorough validation of QEMSCAN data generated for a large Cu porphyry project in Chile. The operator initiated the assessment to determine a measure of confidence in the quality and accuracy of the mineralogy data.


Veteran users of SEM-EDS data have discussed these data validation concepts over many years; however, this service is the first to integrate that knowledge into a coherent package for the larger community. The MinAssist process is standardised to allow reproducibility and benchmarking against best practices in SEM-EDS analysis.  We use information on analysis parameters to monitor consistency within datasets and between ongoing routine mineralogy programs. This allows us to provide a simple measure for the quality of:


  • Sample preparation,
  • QEMSCAN analysis setup,
  • Particle statistics, and
  • SIP lists.


By assessing all these parameters we can quickly provide a snapshot of the quality of your data and whether amendments to the analysis parameters are required.


Please contact our expert consultants Melissa or Pieter if you use QEMSCAN mineralogy results regularly and have datasets that you would like to validate. Our services will help you build confidence in the quality of your mineralogy results to make high value decisions.


In the following weeks we will explore some of the common factors that affect the quality of SEM-EDS mineralogy results.

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About the Author: Pieter Botha

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