A number of methodologies are available for determining the relative proportions of phases in mineral sand samples. Traditional point-counting techniques involved an experienced mineralogist systematically examining polished sections prepared from the sample and manually counting grains under a reflected light microscope to determine their relative abundance. This technique is slow and therefore relatively expensive. This method also does not provide any information on mineral chemistry and phase identification can be somewhat ambiguous. Routine exploration of mineral sands typically produces many thousands of samples. Geologists therefore require both rapid and low cost techniques that can be used cost effectively on a more routine basis.
Using PMC Ltd’s THMScan technology, a cost effective and statistically rigorous analysis is available that provides comprehensive mineral-by-mineral chemical analyses. The analysis of a suite of heavy mineral samples involves using analytical software integrated with the Hitachi FlexSEM scanning electron microscope equipped with an Energy Dispersive X-Ray analyser (SEM-EDX). Initially developed for the mineral sands and diamond exploration teams at Rio Tinto it was used for several years to characterise exploration samples as well as for the analysis of associated process products for quality control purposes. This technique is now available for routine commercial mineralogical studies and is performed at Process Mineralogical
Consulting Ltd. and is integrated with our Mineral Sand Services of sizing, heavy liquids, magnetics and electrostatic separations. PMC Ltd is a leader in mineral sands characterisation in Canada and will assist sands development to it’s full potential.