Automated solutions that offer high-quality gold ore and platinum group metal analysis
Innovative automation solutions that improve gold and platinum assaying
Precious metals (such as platinum, silver and gold) have many complex qualities – including density, mineralogy, and mode of occurrence – which all must be considered when formulating the most effective method of ore grade analysis.
Simple fire assay techniques have been used since ancient times with great success, but with the choice of crushing fineness, splitting techniques, and pulp size having a considerable impact on analytical data results, developing an accurate procedure from sample preparation right through to analysis can be a challenge.
Because we understand this, we have pioneered automated fire assay solutions that are designed to optimise your gold and platinum group metal laboratory processes. With this technology, tasks that once belonged to assayers, who were potentially exposed to heat and lead fumes, can now be completed autonomously with robotics, allowing for more reliable and accurate data gathering. The next generation of fast inline fire assay has been developed. After 12 years of extensive research and development, we introduce FIFA 2, an automated fire assay system that improves on the previously successful FIFA 1.
FIFA 2 can now assay precious metals at levels not previously possible with Spark OES analysis. With FIFA 1, conventional manual fire assay would have had to be retained for low-value tailings analysis.
FIFA 2 has also significantly improved detection limits for platinum group metal and gold, With most functions now being handled by automated devices and robots, human-related errors are reduced. Automation also allows for tasks to be completed without inconsistencies, meaning that more precise data collection can occur. Health and safety for laboratory personnel are improved as well, as their exposure to dust, noise, heat, lead and acid fumes are minimised.
Functions that can be automated include:
- Filtering/drying for slurry samples
- Sampling and sub-sampling
- Sample transport
- Bar-code reading for the input of rock or bar-code samples
- Crushing and splitting
- Fast Inline Fire Assay (FIFA 2) fusion furnaces
- Compiling and bagging composite samples
- Physical analysis – particle size, density and moisture content
- Pelletising machine for sample preparation
- XRF chemical analysis
- Mini-button is cast – and prepared for Spark OES analysis
- Balance to weigh lead buttons and lathe to produce a smooth surface for analysis
- A computerised LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) for the automated control of the laboratory
With the safety, quality and productivity benefits that we can offer your laboratory, our equipment and services are a natural first choice when it comes to automating your gold and platinum group metal laboratory operations.
Innovate your gold and PGM sample analysis
Automation offers your laboratory numerous benefits, delivering you improved safety, affordability, productivity, quality, and accuracy.
Reduced labour and OHS exposure
Automated laboratories generally require a reduced number of personnel to run efficiently. It is no longer necessary for workers to be positioned in high-risk areas of the laboratory, so that exposure to dust, noise, heat, lead and acid fumes are minimised significantly.
Higher throughput systems
With automated laboratories being able to function for long periods without interference, your laboratory will be able to generate increased sample data in shorter turnaround times.
Lower production costs
The FIFA 2 automated system is more cost-effective, making it suited to precious metals industries across all areas of process control analysis, be it high- or low-grade analysis. Its capability, especially where very low-grade precious metals analytical results are required, is likely to result in an increase in its adoption.
Also, the reduced need for personnel lowers production costs, and allows personnel to be utilised on other tasks.
More efficient quality control, including improved consistency
The use of automated equipment in laboratories improves quality control, as the process is not subject to human-based errors or inconsistencies. This means that the data gathered will be of higher quality, as a result of:
- Reduced risk of cross-contamination
- Better consistency and traceability
- Improved reproductivity
Examples of automation success in gold and platinum group metal analysis
We understand how important it is for you to maintain safety, affordability, productivity, quality and accuracy in your laboratory. With our list of successful projects, you can be assured that what we offer you has been built on many years of experience and expertise.
- Polokwane Smelter Complex Laboratory (EBRL) in Polokwane, South Africa
This end-to-end fully automated laboratory is the largest PGM analysis facility in the world. The size of a football pitch, the facility uses fourteen fully automated robots to complete processes such as sample drying, crushing, pulverising, fire assay, density determination, PGM analysis by optical emission spectrometry and base metal analysis by X-ray spectrometry. Automated specific gravity measurement was also provided to the facility.
The benefits have been far-reaching. The automation has eliminated personnel exposure to noise, dust, heat, dangerous fumes, and repetitive tasks. The cost per sample is also significantly cheaper than outsourcing the assays.
The quality of results has improved compared to manual fire assay, especially when it comes to repeatability. The improved quality even challenges the very expensive Nickel Sulphide method of assaying which, in any case, is limited to PGEs.
The project has been an environmental and commercial success, and we have sought to duplicate this outcome with every single project we deliver.
- Anglo American Research Laboratory, South Africa
A fully automated Wet Chemistry NiS Button Dissolution System was engineered for Anglo American Research, at their metal accounting laboratory in Germiston, South Africa.
This system utilises an electronic tracker to monitor samples from bar-code registration to the collection of final results, which are transmitted to a database for validation. This ensures that the system has excellent quality control.
- Anglo Platinum ACP Platinum Matte and Slag, South Africa
To meet increasingly stricter environmental standards, this fully automated laboratory uses Ausmelt technology, which controls temperature and oxygen activity.
Preparation for XRF analysis is completed in a robot circle, which improves turnaround times drastically, as sampling and analysis take less than 12 minutes to complete and requires no operators.
- Modikwa Platinum Mine, Mpumalanga, South Africa
This facility is fully automated from the sampling of the slurry streams, through to filter pressing and microwave drying, sample preparation for fire assay, fire assay itself to produce lead buttons, to the analysis of the lead buttons by OES spark analysis.
The facility processes the UG-2 Layer in the Eastern Limb of the Bushveld Complex which comprises principally pyroxene, plagioclase feldspar and chromite as well as a few base metal sulphides and the platinum group metal.
The turnaround time for Modikwa changed from 36 hours to an average of 2.5-3 hours, based on how the sampling was set up, which is a significant improvement.
- Polokwane Concentrator Laboratory, South Africa
This fully automated sample preparation and analysis facility is used to determine the moisture content of incoming concentrate automatically. XRF analysis is also performed while aliquots of the concentrate are prepared for off-site analysis.
- Potgietersrust Platinum Phase 1 and 2 in Mokopane, South Africa
Located in Mokopane, Limpopo, South Africa, this laboratory includes an automated sample preparation circuit with crushing, pulverising and pelletising for XRF analysis and manual fire assay.
Phase two added a fully automated FIFA (fast inline fire assay) with analysis of PGEs by optical emission spectrometry.
- Kalassay, Australia
We installed a fully automated sample preparation and fire assay (FIFA) system to Kalassay in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. The system includes automated sample preparation, automated fire assay (utilising patented FIFA technology) and automated XRF analysis.
- Laplab, Sweden
Located in Sweden, this automated facility was provided with state-of-the-art sample preparation and fire assay (FIFA) systems.
It includes automated crushing and splitting, automated pulverising, automated weighing of aliquots for fire assay and pressed powder pellets, automated weighing of flux which is mixed with the sample, automated fusion, automated analysis of the lead button (using patented FIFA technology), and automated XRF analysis.
- New Gold Laboratories, Rainy River, Canada
Designed for the Rainy River Project, this fire assay laboratory was a “stick-built” construction operation. The functions automated include sample receiving/login, sample preparation (drying, splitting, crushing, and pulverising), wet chemistry analysis, and fire assay analysis processes.
The metallurgical laboratory consists of two modules that were fabricated off-site, shipped to the process plant, craned onto the second level of the process plant, and then attached to form one single building.
- Xstrata, Canada
A fully automated fire assay (FIFA) system was supplied to Xstrata, located in Canada. This facility is capable of automatically fusing samples, separating the lead from the slag and analysing the lead button to determine the PGE, gold and silver content, making it highly unique.
- Newmont Mining Corporation, USA
This unique facility was supplied to Newmont Mining Corporation as part of an automation project designed to pulverise, weigh samples and flux for fire assay.
This laboratory significantly improves health and safety for laboratory personnel when compared to manual laboratories by eliminating their exposure to dust, noise, heat, lead and acid fumes.
- Accurassay Automated Pulverising Facility, Canada
Accurassay's pulverising facility in Thunder Bay is capable of processing over 3600 samples per day and consists of twelve HP-M 1500 milling systems.
This fleet of mills ensures that Accurassay meets its ten-day turnaround time obligation to clients, while delivering the best possible sample preparation available.
The automated pulverisers dramatically improve operator health and safety as they are not exposed to dust, noise, or heavy lifting typically associated with manual mills.
- Accurassay Automated Crushing System, Canada
Accurassay Laboratories was supplied with a state-of-the-art automated crushing system for mining samples in Thunder Bay, Canada. This facility is capable of processing 1200 samples per day.
The system incorporates the use of conveyors and robotic grippers along with PLC controllers on each module and a SCADA computer system complete with RFID chip technology for sample identification.
This automated crushing system for Accurassay is the first of its kind in Canada and will lead the way in introducing a new standard for quality, productivity and safety within the sample preparation area of mining and mineral laboratories.