Unlocking the applications of automated mineral analysis

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Abstract

Identifying and quantifying the relative abundance of minerals is a fundamental part of many aspects of both pure and applied geology. Historically, quantitative mineralogy could be achieved using optical microscopy and point counting. This is a slow and operator dependent process, and practically impossible to achieve in, for example, very fine grained samples. Over the last decade a range of automated mineralogy technologies have arisen from the global mining industry and are being increasingly used in other branches of geology. These technologies, based on scanning electron microscopy with linked energy dispersive spectrometers, have the potential to revolutionise how we quantify mineralogy. In addition, during measurement, the sample textures are also captured, providing a wealth of valuable data for the geologist. In this article we review the current state of automated mineralogy and highlight the many areas of application for this technology.

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