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​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

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

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

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

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