Aeris Minerals edition
The exploitation of new copper deposits of lower ore grade or the expansion of existing copper mines towards ore zones with changing mineral composition require more accurate and more frequent monitoring during mine planning and ore beneficiation. The presence of minerals such as talc, clinochlore, vermiculite or muscovite influences the behavior of the ore during the flotation process. Clogging or total blocking of tubes in the processing plant can be the result of high amounts of such alteration minerals.
Another important aspect is the geometallurgical characterization of the copper ore. Copper sulfides and oxides need to be separated and require different treatments. All copper minerals present in the ore behave differently during the flotation or leaching process. Frequent monitoring of these minerals saves costs for reagents and leads to an efficient concentration of the copper minerals from the raw ore feed.
Resolving the mineralogical ore composition by use of X-ray diffraction (XRD) is essential for optimizing operational efficiency of the mining and beneficiation process of copper ore. The Minerals edition of Aeris is the first benchtop X-ray diffractometer designed for process control and geometallurgical characterization in the mining industry. This data sheet shows a typical example of the fast and precise analysis of mineralogical ore compositions with Aeris.
In order to show the capabilities of the Minerals edition of Aeris 100 samples from a drill core of a Northern American copper ore deposit were analyzed. The presented data were measured using cobalt radiation, which is especially suited for geological materials with higher iron contents, as it produces high-resolution data without creating excessive sample fluorescence. Measurement time per sample was 10 minutes followed by data evaluation.
Results and discussion
The mineralogical composition of all 100 samples was determined using fully automated full pattern Rietveld analysis . To validate the results from X-ray diffraction, the copper content was calculated from the mineral phases and compared to the results from an elemental X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis.
The samples are characterized by a very complex mineral composition. Main ore minerals are chalcopyrite CuFeS2, cuprite Cu2O, tenorite CuO and sulfates such as brochantite Cu4[(OH)6(SO4)] and serpierite Ca(Cu,Zn)4(SO4)2(OH)6•3H2O. In total 23 different mineral phases could be identified in the samples. Besides the ore minerals also other sulfides, oxides, carbonates, silicates and alteration minerals were quantified. Figure 1 shows an example of a full-pattern Rietveld quantification of a copper ore and Figure 2 summarizes the mineralogical composition of the 100 measured copper ore samples.
The results of the mineral composition of all 100 samples are illustrated in figure 2. Identified phases (left), quantitative composition (middle) and copper content (right) give a good overview about the mineral paragenesis in the ore body.
Knowing the qualitative and quantitative mineral composition of copper ore means additional information for downstream processing. Using a benchtop diffractometer in a laboratory or an automation helps to achieve optimal efficiency during mining and beneficiation.
Figure 1. Quantitative Rietveld analysis of a complex copper ore
A very good match between the copper content calculated from the mineral composition and obtained with elemental XRF analysis is observed, which validates the results from XRD (Figure 2). Even small amounts of copper minerals can be monitored and the respective Cu-content can be accurately predicted.
It demonstrates that X-ray diffraction (XRD) on a benchtop instrument can be used to quantify even complex ores with more than 20 minerals accurately and fast.
Figure 2. Mineralogical composition of 100 copper ore samples containing ore minerals and gangue (left, middle) and comparison of the Cu content calculated from the mineral composition (XRD) and measured with XRF (right)
Rapid mineralogical analysis with the Minerals edition of Aeris offers a reliable method to determine crystalline and amorphous phases of copper ores. Minor minerals can be detected within minutes. Frequent monitoring enables fast counteraction to retrieve optimal beneficiation conditions.