By Dan Oancea

Hand-held portable X-Ray Fluorescence analyzers provide on–the–spot elemental analyses of samples, ores, cores, soils, tailings and concentrates. The analyzers are used in mineral exploration, mine-mapping and grade-control. By reducing the turnaround time for laboratory analyses, the decision making process becomes cost-effective.

A while ago I’ve mentioned two sites where you can get more information about mining applications of XRF analyzers:

THERMO ELECTRON CORPORATION where they describe the use of their new line of products (Niton) for mining-related geochemical exploration, mine mapping, mill head, tailings, and environmental monitoring. They have downloadable papers and technical articles ranging from nickel laterite grade control to open pit copper grade control to the X-ray spectrum of monazite.

INNOV-X-SYSTEMS where they note the following:

“XRF is the standard technique used to acquire elemental analysis data for the mining industry. In the past, miners had to rely on the expensive and time consuming requirement of collecting samples and sending them to laboratories for analysis. Today, our portable tube-based XRF analyzer is fast becoming a critical device in a miner's on-site tool box.”

I have to come back to the subject because I have just stumbled upon a report belonging to CBH Resources Ltd., an Australian company, which had to timely explore land holdings located in the Broken Hill region of New South Wales. Their January report stated that:

“A surface geochemical survey using a portable XRF analyser has commenced in Broken Hill… The programme is utilising a new technology that provides in-situ analysis of surface soil for a wide range of elements with results available immediately. Coupled with GPS positioning, the NITON XRF analyser enables areas to be geochemically mapped rapidly and with an unprecedented level of detail. The technology is effective where there are large areas of shallow residual soils, such as much of the Broken Hill Block.” and

“This enhanced level of detail provides a significant advantage for drillhole targeting, especially in areas of highly complex geology such as Broken Hill, where the surface geochemical “footprint” of steeply plunging orebodies can have a relatively small areal extent. The coarse measurement precision of the NITON system compared to laboratory techniques is compensated for by its ability to obtain a high sample density, quickly and at reasonable cost”

Thousands of samples have been collected and on-spot analyzed. The results delineated a strong lead and zinc anomaly area, which has not been drill tested by previous explorers. The joint-venture partners were confident that the use of the Niton XRF analyzer is going to quickly generate a large number of new drilling targets.

Simply put, it rapidly generates low-cost geochemical data that could be computer plotted at the end of the day. What better guidance than daily geochemical maps of your exploration/prospecting traverses?