Mining is a risky business. In order to minimize this risk it is crucial to have an in depth and well defined understanding of the geological region when targeting and developing prospective sites. The science of prospecting for deposits large enough for commercial viability involves extensive field work prior to any extraction operation. Mining exploration includes material sampling and analysis which is costly and time consuming when performed with traditional laboratory based methods.
Reflectance spectroscopy is utilized by miners for rapidly characterizing many of the alteration assemblages associated with economic deposits. Since these assemblages define mineralogical and geochemical halos associated with mineralization and can be recognized beyond the obvious limits of ore deposits, they allow remote detection via portable near-infrared (NIR) reflectance spectroscopy.
NIR spectroscopy is a consistent, cost-effective technology that has been used for decades in the analysis of worldwide natural resources. As a rapid and reliable mineral exploration technique, it has proven to be an ideal mineral identification tool for geologists and earth researchers. When compared to other mineral analysis techniques, NIR spectroscopy can:
- Provide real-time results for real-time decision making
- Easy technician-level operation with no safety concerns
- Cost effectively analyze hundreds of samples in a day
- Flexible, mobile setup: in the field, core shack, adjacent to drill rig, field camp, laboratory, office
- Provide In situ field measurements
- Handle a variety of sample types with little or no sample preparation required
Reflectance spectroscopy is well suited and commonly used for the identification and characterization of minerals associated with precious metals, base metals, gems, and other resources:
- Clays: Differentiate clay species such as kaolinites, illite/micas, smectites, chlorites
- Iron minerals such as hematite, goethite, garnets, and pyroxenes
- Rare Earth Element (REE) minerals
- Ammonium minerals
- Chlorites and serpentines
- Other hydroxyl-containing minerals such as amphiboles, epidotes, apatite, tourmalines, topaz, diaspore, and many of the arsenates
- Hydrous silicates such as opal, beryl, and zeolites
ASD developed the TerraSpec Halo and the TerraSpec 4 as user-friendly, rapid, field-portable systems for characterizing hundreds of mineralogical samples per day. TerraSpec instruments adapt easily to different environments—the laboratory, the field, or a drilling site—providing the real-time information necessary to optimize mining exploration processes. The system can be used to develop a wide range of models for analyzing many sample types, including outcrops, hand specimens, core, RC drill chips, and metallurgical pulps—all with little or no sample preparation.
Learn more about ASD’s mining exploration solutions by exploring the application notes linked at the top of this page.