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Issue 2, April 2016
In this Edition:
From thin section to bulk sample * Lithium in Ostrobothnia * FAMEly homes: Porto * Interview Peter Robinson Thoughts from FAMErs
From thin section to bulk sample – the FAME resource base between outcrop and microscope
The FAME project had a very productive first year with field campaigns documenting and sampling the greisens, skarns and pegmatites of the six reference deposits of Cinovec, Tabuaço, Gonçalo, Pöhla and Keliber, followed by mineral and geochemical studies (see scheme below) to characterise the mineralogical variables significant for process flow design. In parallel, the economic potential of skarn, pegmatite and greisen ore deposits of Europe was assessed and requirements for profitable mining defined. Prof. Reimar Seltmann The FAME consortium successfully delivered the first results (Natural History of these investigations in two reports that were released in September 2015 (Deliverable Report D2.1) and February Photo (Chris Stanley, NHM): Scheelite (blue), malayaite 2016 (Deliverable Report D2.2). (green) and garnet (black) from Tabuaço (thin section under short-wave UV in plane polarised light) Dr. Jens Andersen (Camborne School of Mines, University Photo (Alla Dolgopolova and Tobias Salge, NHM): Sample from Cinovec in false colored map from EVO SEM (NHM): Sn – red FAME Project Partner (cassiterite), Ce – blue (monazite), Zr – green (zircon) FAME at PDAC 2016
PDAC – Toronto, Canada, 6-9 March 2016 Over 23,500 attendees from 100 different countries had the opportunity to learn at first hand progress on FAME. PDAC is held annually in early March in Toronto and FAME consortium member The Natural History Museum (NHM) highlighted FAME on behalf of the rest of the FAME family. Alla Dolgopolova and Robin Armstrong who are both active FAME researchers, participating in Work Package 2 – Mineralogical and Chemical Characterisation of the Reference Ores – together with the Museum's Head of Earth Sciences Department were on hand to field questions from the worldwide audience at what is one of the highlights of the Mining Investment Calendar. Photo (NHM): A. Dolgopolova, R. Armstrong and R. Herrington man the NHM stand at PDAC where FAME featured prominently.
Reconciling assay values with mineralogy within FAME
Reconciling assay values with mineralogy within the FAME project: QEMSCAN® analysis at Camborne School of
Mines, University of Exeter
Mineral processing commonly relies on geochemical assays and optical assessments by geologists to guide decision making in the design of processing strategies. These methods, however, are problematic, firstly because the optical assessments are highly subjective, and secondly because the target metals as well as deleterious compounds may be distributed between several minerals with different properties. The QEMSCAN® (and MLA) systems (both marketed by FEI corporation) were developed to overcome these issues and to provide statistically valid data for mineral abundances, particle size distributions and mineral liberation. The instruments are built around scanning electron microscopes and work through the detection of x-rays, which can then be compared to a mineralogical database that has been tailored to specific ore types. The instrument is fully automated and can collect and process more than 50,000 mineral analyses per hour. In the FAME project, we have developed QEMSCAN® protocols to correctly classify Sn, B, and W bearing silicate and oxide minerals along with their common hosts and accompanying deleterious minerals. The aim is to provide full and statistically valid information on the ore minerals, their associated gangue and minerals that could be problematic for processing. The determinations are validated through optical examination to ensure results are accurate. Although the system is automated, it requires quality control by an experienced operator. Without proper validation, errors in the mineral database may lead to incorrect information that can seriously affect the processing strategies. For example kaolinite, which may seriously inhibit processing, can be misidentified as topaz, which poses very different processing problems. The minerals are easily recognised optically. Specific to FAME, we collected mineralogical data every 10 µm on the samples, giving a total analysis of typically 3-6 million points per sample. Mineral databases have been developed for the main sites in the project leading to the identification of all minerals. So far, samples from Cínovec, Tabuaço, Gonçalo and Pöhla deposits have been analysed, providing data on mineral abundances, sizes and associations of the primary and subsidiary target minerals (Li micas, amblygonite-montebrasite, columbite-tantalite, scheelite and sphalerite). The data will be combined with mineral analyses to assess the total mineralogical distribution of the target metals. They will then provide the background for the development of mineral processing strategies in Photo (UNEXE): Cross-polarised light optical photo (J. Andersen) and QEMSCAN mineral map (G. Rollinson) of WP3-5, and the next stage will be to test how efficient these processing comb-textured quartz (Qz) vein with coarse cassiterite strategies have been in liberating and separating the ore minerals from the (Cst) and a core of fluorite (Fl), chlorite (Chl), K-feldspar gangue and deleterious compounds. (Article by B. Simons & J.C.Ø. Andersen) (Ksp), Pöhla, Germany. FAMEly homes: Porto – a day in a life
Porto, a town cut in stone, down at the Douro River, the blood vein that exploits the liquid gold of Northern Portugal: the Port Wine. Like the wine yards also mining can be traced back to Roman times. However, the baroque style and Belle Epoque facades of this second largest city of Portugal are a mirror of the colonial past. A city that wakes up in the morning with a slight breath of foggy Atlantic air and leaving the day in vibrating night lives or silent cafes. Porto today is still bridging the antique with modern times, the Old with the New World. Porto and the North of Portugal are home of FAME Partners Universidad de Porto, the Portuguese Geological Survey (LNEG) und Eurocolt, an exploration and mining company developing the Tabuaço tungsten deposit in the Douro Mountains. Fernando Noronha, professor at the Faculty of Sciences, is a „living rock" and knows the Porto-Granites like no other. Porto is Granite and Granite is Porto – since the erection of the Sé Catedral in early 12th century. The cathedral has been constructed with granite blocks up to 700 kg in weight. Although made of stone Sé Catedral is the heart of Porto. Early settlement started here in the Bronze Age. A bluish living contrast against the grey-yellow granite are the so-called Azulejos – picturesque tiles, scattered all around Porto. The central station São Bento mirrors mosaics of 20,000 hand made tiles introducing into the rich history of Portugal, including the occupation of Morocco by Henry the Seafarer, who was born here. Porto is a reflect socio-economic and cultural eclipse of Portugal in the 16. century when the most western country of Europe became one of the top sea powers discovering the New World. Fernando lives and works in this tradition. For about 40 years he is researching in the honourable main building of the University on petrography and petrology as well as mineralisation of the Northern Portuguese granites. But not only by chemistry and binocular, also macroscopically, discovering the granites by their appearance as part of the natural and human heritage. Fernando created the „Foz do Douro Metamorphic Complex" a geological trail along the Atlantic shore. He shares the beauty of this environment with the locals – the Tripeiras – as well as with tourists and perhaps also with you? FAME Work Package 3 and 4 – Mechanical Processing
Unlocking Lithium and Wolfram – Comminution, pre-concentration and pressure leaching
Progress of Work Package 3 Starting up with Gonçalo and Tabuaço pre-concentration tests at UCTM-LNEG. Mário stands next to a jaw and a cone crusher, the first size reducing steps to be used, followed by a circular vibrating screen and Ana Maria carries on, doing the quartering, prior to size distribution analysis of Gonçalo Pits 1 and 2 and Tabuaço Outcrops 1, 2 and 3. Chemical analysis of the size fractions will be used to assess the discriminating comminution during the crushing process. From the sized material, smaller sub-samples will be collected to carry out XRT and Optical Sorting tests to obtain data on gangue liberation. Progress of Work Package 4 While the conventional chemical leaching of Lepidolite requires sulfuric acid, the idea developed in FAME even goes one step further by using microbial sulfur oxidizing bacteria to produce the sulfuric acid and to extract the Lithium at moderate temperature and pressure conditions. In the first bioleaching experiment in a bioreactor about 30% of Lithium was extracted from the mica. These encouraging results give hope that a more environmentally friendly process for unlocking lithium resources can be developed. Tungsten ores from the FAME reference deposit Tabuaço contain a high tungsten content represented in the form of scheelite. The work plan in FAME includes in the first step experiments for leaching of tungsten directly from the ore and to produce the marketable product Ammonium Paratungstate (APT). Therefore pressure leaching was applied to the ore. The experiments were carried out in an autoclave at high temperature Photos (LNEG, Porto): Work with samples from Tabuaço and Gonçalo and pressure at 110 to 180°C and 6 to 13 bar, respectively. Within 2 to 4 hours duration of the experiment up to 97% of the valuable metal were released. FLTR: Zinnwaldite ready for bioleaching experiments (Photo: GEOS); Autoclave for pressure leaching tests of scheelite ore (Photo: UP); Lab scale bioreactor (Photo: GEOS) FAME visits Lithium cluster of Central Ostrobothnia
FAME´s first Focus Group Meeting in Finland – insight into the value chain of Lithium
FAME's first Focus Group Meeting in September 2015 led to Kokkola/Kaustinen, a region that comprises a cluster of resource, research and manufacturing on ore-based chemicals especially in energy storage. The lithium spodumene deposits found in Central Ostrobothnia are the most significant in Europe. Our Finnish industrial Project Partner Keliber Oy is engaged in searching for and developing spodumene-rich pegmatite deposits in the region. The meeting introduced research institutions and industrial companies which are essential part of lithium value chain into the FAME project. The growing importance of lithium and some other metals, such as cobalt, manganese, zinc and nickel as global chemicals for the battery industry has been the driving force to link industry with education including also the recycling of metal chemicals and studying the waste streams, and developing the business operations linked to them. The Focus Group Meeting visited Oulu University´s Research group of Applied Chemistry at Kokkola University Consortium which has long term experience on chemical processes related to metal battery chemicals production and recycling. This research group has laboratory and bench scale facilities for the preparation of battery chemicals as well as characterization tools. An internationally unique battery testing laboratory for pouch cells is also located in the region. Close co-operation with chemical companies has led to several local investments, e.g. in the battery chemical production, recycling of lithium ion batteries, and recently as a new investment for alkaline battery recycling. Photos to the right (Anne Kytölä/GTK; GKZ): FAMEly partners at Oulu University Keliber Oy´s Läntää spodumene (red) for lithium production in energy storage. Editorial contacts: Chris Broadbent (email@example.com) Wolfgang Reimer (firstname.lastname@example.org) www.fame-project.eu Layout and Setting: FAME – Advisory Board Member Peter Robinson, BFL
Interview with Peter Robinson, British Fluorspar Ltd. about the future of European mining entrepreneurship
The mining industry is full of "larger than life" characters and a classic example is provided by Peter Robinson – an active member of the FAME Advisory Board and client and friend of FAME co-ordinator Chris Broadbent. Chris met up with Peter in Derbyshire at British Fluorspar Ltd. Chris: Hi Peter – perhaps you would like to give readers a rapid review of your career in mining. Peter: I graduated as a mining engineer from the Royal School of Mines (Imperial College) London in 1975 and the rest, as they say, is history. Starting with jobs with British Coal in Scotland, followed by tin mining in Cornwall, base metals in Australia, gold in South Africa, back to a long spell in Coal (Australia and Europe) before owning Glebe Mine (fluorspar) in Derbyshire which I subsequently sold to Imerys. Chris: Was this with retirement in mind? Peter: Well, not actually – I had a brownfield land reclamation company in the UK for a number of years and in 2012 came "home" to Derbyshire as the Chairman of British Fluorspar Ltd and re-opened the mine and processing plant in 2012. Currently I am actively pursuing mining projects in the Balkans, Ethiopia and Patagonia – retirement is not really on the agenda. Chris: BFL must be quite important to you. Peter: Yes – it is one of the last underground mines in the UK and the last lead mine in the UK; lead mining has a history dating back to at least Roman times. There is clearly a sense of responsibility in the historic sense, but also the challenge of helping shape a new, smaller industry operating under new mine regulations and without the resources (training, mining practice, R&D, H&S etc.) that used to be provided by the UK Coal Industry. Chris: What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the European Mining Industry? Peter: Without hesitation – over regulations, particularly in respect to environmental issues, bureaucracy and the time, complexity and cost of planning new mining operations. High costs, particularly wages, makes EU mining less competitive with many countries in the World. This has to be countered by higher efficiency, good management and the deployment of new technology. Chris: Does EU policy make this harder and can FAME make a difference?
Peter: Perhaps the EU isn't as "friendly" towards mining as it could be and there is certainly a perception amongst the public
that mining is bad. This can lead to barriers, to operating a mine and can result in closures. FAME can make a big difference –
and the EU's role should be congratulated. This difference can be seen two ways: One – providing targeted research into
making EU mining more efficient, flexible, mobile, financially viable smaller operations, improved quality, reliability of mineral
supply. Cost competitiveness. Undertake project to identify Best Practice for operating a mine efficiently whilst providing
sufficient environmental/social protection – Equitable balance. Two – Networking and lobbying within the EU corridor of power
to establish a more equitable balance between Regulation, Bureaucracy and efficient cost competitive mining.
Chris: I'm sure you have ideas of how FAME can be developed further?
Peter: There are lots of initiatives that can build on the foundations of FAME: Simpler access to funding to increase number of
work programmes; Focus upon new mine development environmental permitting, mineral waste disposal and mine closure
plans to provide a closed mining life cycle (i.e. prioritise the concept that mining is a temporary land use); and Extend research
and mining projects to cover the underdeveloped mining regions around Europe but not in the EU i.e. Balkans, Morocco and
Turkey which are logical extension areas of EU mining. These are just a few ideas that would help the mining industry.
Chris: Many thanks Peter – your time and insight is much appreciated. FAME is certainly lucky to have access to your deep, practical knowledge of mining in all parts of the World.
ISSN 10274510, Journal of Surface Investigation. Xray, Synchrotron and Neutron Techniques, 2014, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 360–363. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2014.Original Russian Text © N.V. Dalakova, K.M. Elekoeva, A.Z. Kashezhev, A.R. Manukyants, A.D. Prokhorenko, M.Kh. Ponezhev, V.A. Sozaev, 2014, published in Poverkhnost'.Rentgenovskie, Sinkhrotronnye i Neitronnye Issledovaniya, 2014, No. 4, pp. 60–63.