(Nanowerk News) FEI Company, a leading provider of high-resolution imaging and analysis systems, has released the MLA 600F system, a high-speed automated mineralogy analyzer used in the mining industry to optimize the performance of mineral processing operations. The new MLA 600F reduces sample turnaround time from days to hours, allowing operators to increase metal recovery by responding faster and more frequently to changes in feed and waste stream mineralogy. The new system was developed in cooperation with FEI's partner, JKTech, based in Australia, and mining giant and automated mineralogy pioneer, Anglo Platinum, Ltd., based in South Africa.
"Anglo Research, sponsored by Anglo Platinum, currently operates the largest number of scanning electron microscope-based mineralogical instruments in the world," said Dr. Robert Schouwstra, head of mineralogical research at Anglo Research. "Knowledge of the complex mineralogy and liberation characteristics of the plant feed helps Anglo Platinum operate the plant more efficiently. The faster the analytical turnaround, the quicker we can respond to changes in feed mineralogy, with obvious benefit. The speed improvements of the MLA 600F significantly reduce the analysis component of our total turnaround time and provide critical leverage for our efforts to reduce the other major components, sample preparation and transport time. The new MLA 600F is an important step toward our ultimate aim of implementing high-speed, automated mineralogy at the operational sites."
"Faster analysis translates directly into economic benefits for our customers," said Paul Scagnetti, general manager and vice president of FEI's Industry Market Division. "In this application, it allows the optimization frequency to increase from once a week to as often as once per shift, permitting operators to respond more quickly to changes in feed properties and, ultimately, to maintain process performance closer to optimal values for maximum economic returns."
The MLA 600F uses a scanning electron microscope equipped with a field emission gun (FEG) and multiple high-speed energy dispersive X-ray spectrometers (EDS) to automatically acquire image and composition information from a large number of samplesaEUR-typically polished sections of particulates from mineral processing operations and drill core, or lump materials from exploration. Specialized software from FEI's partner and mineral analysis leader, JKTech, uses the data to acquire and measure characteristics such as mineral type and distribution, grain size, liberation and associationaEUR-essential properties of the ore that must be accommodated in mineral processing to achieve maximum metal recovery. The ability of the MLA 600F system to reduce sample turnaround time from days to hours derives from both hardware and software enhancements. Principal among them are faster, higher quality imaging provided by the high brightness FEG, and high-speed data acquisition and analysis enabled by efficient sampling, fast automation and streamlined analytical design.