​First automated SEM minerals analysis system installed on Australian mine

AXT has installed the first onsite scanning electron microscope automated minerals analysis system in an Australian mine, at the Northparkes operation.

Known as TIMA, it uses a scanning electron microscope (SEM) with highly integrated Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis (EDX) system to perform full spectrum analyses at very fast speeds.

This enables fully automated data collection, resulting in faster, more precise results.

TIMA is able to characterise mineral abundance, size by size liberation, mineral association and grain size automatically on multiple samples.

“The addition of the TESCAN TIMA to Northparkes’ analytical capabilities adds high resolution automated mineralogy capabilities for advanced characterisation of process plant and geological samples to their onsite assay and metallurgical laboratory offerings,” AXT stated.

The data from the system will be used at the process plant and for ore characterisation, as well as to support future optimisation projects and proposed plant changes.

“In terms of production control and optimisation, the information from the TIMA will be integrated with plant control variables to allow troubleshooting and optimisation of concentrator performance, resulting in improved production efficiency,” AXT explained.

Speaking on the installation, TESCAN TIMA BDM Paul Gottlieb said “this installation is a major advance as it takes the technology from the laboratory to the mine site”.

“The TIMA data can be analysed much more rapidly resulting in faster fine-tuning of plant performance and increased productivity.”

Northparkes manager for the ore processing department, Roslyn Dalton, added that the data from the system will be used to aid exploration, underground development and production, ore process control, and marketing.

“In particular, the TIMA will be a good fit for our existing metallurgical applications,” Dalton said.

The same system have been installed at CSIRO Minerals, and at Curtin University, in Perth.

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