First on-site SEM-based minerals analysis system in Australia
AXT has announced the installation of a TESCAN TIMA automated mineralogy system at Northparkes Mines. The copper and gold mine is located near the town of Parkes in central-west NSW and is owned by China Molybdenum Co Ltd (CMOC). This installation is particularly significant as it is the first mine site installation of an automated SEM-based minerals analysis system in Australia.
TESCAN is a Czech company based in Brno, focused on the development and production of scanning electron microscopes, focused ion beams (FIBs) and related accessories. The company is responsible for significant developments, including the world’s first fully integrated Xe plasma source FIB and the Raman integrated scanning electron (RISE) microscope in conjunction with WITec.
AXT is an Australian supplier of technology equipment for the mining, materials, life science and non-destructive testing markets. It is also TESCAN’s agent in Australia and New Zealand, supplying ongoing product and software support for TESCAN’s systems.
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 the mine’s on-site assay and metallurgical laboratory offerings. The automated data from the TIMA will be utilised in both a process plant and ore characterisation sense. 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. TIMA data will be used to support metallurgical optimisation projects, identify opportunities for improvement and justify plant changes. The instrument will also be used to support mining operations including resource model validation and optimisation.
TESCAN TIMA’s business development manager, 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.”
Roslyn Dalton, manager ore processing department, Northparkes Mines, commented, “Our principal goal is to increase our processing production efficiency, and we have a clear vision of how the TIMA will help us achieve that. The benefits expected from the TIMA will apply to all areas of our business, including exploration, underground development and production, ore process control and marketing - all linking together to achieve our goal of greater efficiency. In particular, the TIMA will be a good fit for our existing metallurgical applications. The TIMA offering is developing and expanding and we are excited to be a part of that, including having user input into future software development.”
AXT’s managing director, Richard Trett, said of the installation, “I have every confidence that the vision shown by Northparkes Mines will establish the economic benefit of on-site mineralogy and prove a pivotal step in the modernisation of the Australian mining industry.”
Automated process mineralogy was developed in Australia, and TIMA is a new generation of the technology. 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 fast, accurate and reliable results. TIMA is able to characterise mineral abundance, size-by-size liberation, mineral association and grain size automatically on multiple samples.
This will be the third TESCAN TIMA installation in Australia since last November. The other TIMA systems are installed at CSIRO Minerals in Perth and at Curtin University, also in Perth. AXT provides service and support for all these installations as well as other TESCAN installations around the country.
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