This week at the FUTORES II international conference on tectonics, ores, resources and sustainability AXT unveiled the Automated Mineralogy Incubator (AMI). The AMI facility was established to generate a broader understanding of automated mineralogy and aid explorationists and mineral processing companies by providing a low risk, low cost route for them to adopt the technology.

Automated mineralogy is a technology that can be integrated into existing mineral workflows to bring about gains in operational efficiency, recovery rates, profitability and environmental ecology. By taking samples at various stages throughout the process, automated mineralogy can provide valuable data on the efficiency and success of the various processes and used to optimise these individual processes in a minerals refining production environment.

Similarly, it can be used by exploration geologists to generate definitive mineral outputs and can be integrated directly into exploration models for mineral mapping and paragenesis studies. This provides a deeper level of understanding of a deposit such that more accurate economical models can be developed as to the viability and life of a mineral deposit.

Automated mineralogy uses technology originally developed by the CSIRO based on a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). Systems like the TESCAN TIMA-X can automatically analyse mineralogical samples to provide a range of beneficial outputs including mineralogical breakdowns, mineral liberation, mineral associations and texture. It also enable element deportment studies to define both elemental substitutions within a mineral and in which mineral you commodity element lies.

The AMI facility in Perth uses a TIMA-X, the most advanced and fully integrated automated mineralogy solution available seamlessly melding hardware and software. The system installed at the AMI is a high-specification variant based on a Field Emission SEM. It is also the only system in Australia to be equipped with an AutoLoader™ which allows you to queue 100 samples for 24/7 operation, minimising operator labour.

The AMI offers a number of ways to get involved, so you can test the waters with automated mineralogy. These allow you to gain access to the instrument and in-house expertise as well as allowing you to evaluate the technology for your specific application. 

Richard Trett, AXT Managing Director and founder of the AMI said, "The minerals resource sector is extremely important for the Australian economy. Automated mineralogy offers significant benefits and efficiencies throughout almost the entire value chain. It offers mining operations a pathway to reduce energy consumption, improve recovery and even aid in exploration. It is our hope that by establishing the AMI we remove the most significant barriers that have existed in adopting this technology. It’s a practical pathway to the onsite integration of automated mineralogy."

As the resource market becomes more competitive and more easily accessible mineral deposits become fewer, we must find ways to be able to exploit less economically viable deposits. Automated mineralogy will help minerals, mining and metallurgy companies to become more competitive, especially against countries that have lower labour costs.”

AMI’s Business Development Manager, Melissa Narbey commented, "before we actually launched we received a lot of interest in the AMI. We have already started working with mining companies and are looking to build a network that will offer members access to additional expertise to nurture the wide acceptance and implementation of automated mineralogy. We have a team of experts who are all here to help you understand the technology and hope to see it deployed more extensively around the country."