The power of orebody knowledge

An interview with Eddy Hill, Natural Resources and Metals, ZEISS Microscopy

ZEISS has the widest microscopy portfolio available in industry with numerous mining and minerals sector applications from exploration right through to end of mine life and considering what minerals need to be considered in mine remediation.

In exploration, the ability to analyse large volumes of rock samples quickly and locate mineral deposits is key to modern exploration workflows. At feasibility stage, to minimise risk ahead of the mine planning phase, potential complexities and variability in the recovery process must be assessed through metallurgical test work and flow sheet modelling. Successes has included highlighting of nano-gold tellurides in pyrite that hadn’t shown in assays.

In mine production, low head grades contribute significantly to costs in the mineral processing plant. By sending mine blocks containing uneconomical ore to the plant, the mining operation effectively reduces the head grade further, which contributes to a greater overall cost in mineral processing. An increase in operating costs combined with reducing ore quality is driving process improvement at the mine site. The ability to artificially improve the head grade through selective processing is a key value driver. Unique ZEISS quantitative EDX-based technology further simplifies the workflow through the ability to use automated mineralogy data to calibrate the mass spectrometer. This enables high throughput screening of specimens.

Automated Mineralogy (AM) through the utilisation of a fully quantitative Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) mineral classification system and advanced image analysis capabilities can also be used for the mineralogical analysis of process streams to build up a comprehensive understanding of the daily performance of the plant. With a systematic sampling strategy and rapid data generation, technologies like ZEISS MinSCAN can provide quantitative answers particularly on questions like are recoverable minerals being lost to tailings? Is the concentrate being diluted? Is the incoming ore type going to the correct process stream?

Finally, many mines are looking again at tailings with a view to reprocessing, and here ZEISS Automated Mineralogy can scan large numbers of material samples to better determine the best strategy for recovery of the target mineral or minerals in this material. 

The power of orebody knowledge