Online analysis of metal content can be used to optimise the grade and recovery of a flotation circuit. Compared to conventional laboratory analyses, the benefit of an online analyser is the speed of the measurement, therefore disturbances (eg changes in feed grade and decrease in recovery) can be reacted to in real time by an operator or automatic process control system. In some cases traditional X-ray fluorescence analysers can be applied to silica analysis in iron ore when the SiO2 grades are high enough and have a negative correlation with iron; however, generally a laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) analyser is more suitable for low Z elements.
The Outotec Courier 8® analyser is a LIBS based analyser able to measure elements starting from lithium (Z = 3), thus being able to measure impurities; eg silica and aluminium directly in iron ore slurries. Besides online elemental analysis, the analyser can be combined with optical measurements for rapid continuous measurement of each sample line. Laboratory testing has also shown potential for mineralogical analysis using the combination of LIBS and reflectance spectroscopy.
Koresaar, L, Khajehzadeh, N, Haavisto, O and Timperi, J, 2017. Online elemental and mineral measurement of slurries in iron ore beneficiation, in Proceedings Iron Ore 2017, pp 561–566 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).