Bulk sorting by LIF: quality control of ores for bulk sorting and blending - by laser-induced fluorescence analysis

Broicher, H. F.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
Introduction In April 1998, AIS Sommer GmbH of Germany delivered the first laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) analyzer to the mining industry. LKAB's Kiruna iron ore mine in Sweden shared the costs and the risk of building the prototype. This marks the beginning of LIF analysis as a technique for quality control in mining and mineral processing. Photoluminescence analysis is well established. In most laboratories, fluorescence spectrometers are standard equipment for quality or pollution control. LIF is being used in several applications, including combustion studies and particle image velocimetry. However, it has mostly been used in laboratory environments. The availability of rugged lasers for industrial use brings this powerful tool to the forefront of production, even in the rough conditions found in mining and minerals processing. Laser-induced fluorescence Basics. Fluorescence of naturally occurring minerals has fascinated man since scientific investigation of this phenomenon commenced about 200 years ago. However, importance in industrial application and peripheral activities. Hand sorting of ore under ultraviolet (UV) lamps is seen as an archaic method. Long gone are the days when geologists set out at night with UV hand lamps to find valuable ore deposits, especially those of tungsten. Today, fluorescent minerals are considered collectors' items and museum exhibits. In the late 1960s (Hemphill, 1968) and during the 1970s, attempts to use lasers for excitation of fluorescence in minerals led to the development of an airborne fluorosensor (Seigel and Robbins, 1980). However, this prospecting technology did not gain industry acceptance and vanished from the market. During the past seven years, ongoing research of the LIF of minerals resulted in new findings that give good reason to revive the interest in fluorescence and its use in the mineral industries (Broicher and Zydek, 1995; Broicher, 1998). Fluorescence is defined as the short-lived form of photoluminescence, in which matter emits visible radiation during and after irradiation with light – the fluorescence generally being of a longer wavelength than the irradiation. Fluorescence of matter is described by: • the absorption spectrum, • the emission spectrum, • the decay curve and • the quantum efficiency. The absorption spectrum shows the fluorescence intensity in a fixed spectral band as a function of the excitation wavelength, while the emission spectrum shows the fluorescence intensity at varying emission wave- lengths for a fixed excitation wavelength (Fig. 1). The decay curves describe the exponential decrease of the fluorescence intensity with time. The quantum efficiency is the ratio of irradiating energy to emitted energy. Re- cent research has found that: the quantum efficiency of minerals can be measured and evaluated,
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