Mineral characterisation of industrial mineral deposits at the Geological Survey of Norway: a short introduction
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Mineral characterisation involves the study of minerals in terms of their size, habit, chemical composition, morphology, textural position, association and other attributes. There is an established and increasingly important need for this type of study applied to deposits of industrial minerals. This is due to increasing specification requirements for raw materials and mineral products to complete the marketplace and the realisation that mineral characterisation can ensure optimisation of mineral processing, thus maximisimg profit. Developments in microanalytical technology in recent years have made it possible to characterise mineral in an increasingly comprehensive manner. This paper briefly summaries some of the methods used by the Geological Survey of Norway in routine investigations carried out in partnership with the industrial minerals industry. Characterisation of minerals has become an increasingly important part of Survey activities, simultaneous with a relative decline in fieldbased studies. X-Ray diffraction analysis (XRD), image analysis, quantitative electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) are becoming routine methods and supplement traditional microscopic studies and geochemical analysis. Other innovative micro-beam techniques such as laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (LA-ICP-MS) are likely to become important in the future, as the need for microanalysis at lower detection limits intensifies. The resource industry is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of this type of information and the value of mineral characterisation data. This trend is likely to increase in future.