Added value

  • On-off electric neutron source
  • Control of nickel grade and moisture
  • Value optimization at nickel ore mining operation
  • Long lifetime tube
  • Modular design minimizes downtime during installation

Unique and proven PFTNA

Using high energy neutrons to determine the chemistry of materials is very useful for process control because the analysis is done instantaneously, allowing many control changes over short periods of time to achieve the target chemistry. The analysis is very representative since all the material on a belt from top-to-bottom and side-to-side is being analyzed. 




Installation of a CNA in the mining operation (before and/or after shipment to the treatment plant) enables control of the nickel grade and moisture which allows for sorting and optimizing the stockpile and shipment, delivering value to both sender and receiver.


A CNA installed after dryer operation enables control of the nickel grade, the Fe/Ni ratio and the basicity index (MgO/SiO2) of the material entering calciners. It is possible to adjust silica, iron or carbon additives to prevent corrosion of the furnace lining. By determining the moisture content, the CNA-Nickel allows for optimization of the dryer parameters in the pyrometallurgical process resulting in significant energy savings during the calcine process.

Nickel, from sulfide nickel ores, is extracted by a process where the nickel sulfide mineral is freed from gangue by crushing and grinding, after which it is separated by flotation and finally smelted or roasted. Extraction of nickel from the laterite ores is carried out either by pyrometallurgical (for saprolite) or hydrometallurgical (for limonite) process.

PANalytical and Sodern have extensive experience in the analysis of lateritic nickel ores in New Caledonia and more precisely of silicate (or saprolite) type of lateritic nickel ores. However, the CNA-Nickel can be used for sulfide nickel ores as well.

Cost-saving opportunities

  • Value optimization at nickel ore mining operation
  • Energy savings by moisture control
  • Prevention of corrosion damage to the kiln
  • Manpower and maintenance savings by removal of the sampling tower.


MethodsPulsed fast and thermal neutron activation analysisSafety loopARP System (Automatic Radiation Protections System)
GeneratorElectrical neutron generator (On/Off)Radiation levelsCompliant with European Council directive 96/29/ EURATOM
Quantified elementsFor laterite ores:No radiation when the CNA is not in operation
Ni, Co, Fe, Mg, Si, Al, Mn, Cr, Ca, H
For sulfide ores: on request
Nickel parametersFor laterite ores: Ni, Co, Fe2O3, MgO, SiO2, Al2O3, Mn, Cr2O3 and CaO
Nickel grade (the Fe/Ni ratio) and the basicity index (MgO/SiO2) and moisture
For sulfide ores: on request
FeaturesUnaffected by varying belt loading