FEI has announced that it has reached a milestone of more than 200 automated mineralogy systems installed worldwide.
FEI’s Mineral Liberation Analysis (MLA) and QEMSCAN® automated mineralogy systems are used by scientists and engineers in the mining and oil & gas industries to understand the detailed mineralogy of the materials they extract during mining and drilling operations.
This information helps them more accurately evaluate the economic potential of their operations and optimize their exploration and production processes.
“Automated mineralogy has transformed from a curiosity to a mainstream necessity in support laboratories for major mining and petroleum producers around the world,” said Rudy Kellner, vice president of FEI's Industry Group.
Kellner continued, “FEI is leading the competition in sales of automated mineralogy solutions. Most of the top ten mining companies have our systems-one has 21, as well as several of the largest oil and gas producers and service providers. An exciting trend we are now seeing is the move from laboratory to mine and well sites as the value of faster analytical results in both exploration and production becomes more widely realized.”
Automated mineralogy uses a scanning electron microscope and multiple X-ray spectrometers to determine the structure and composition of rocks at the microscopic level.
Automation makes the analysis quick and easy for operators with little or no special training and permits unattended overnight operation to accumulate statistically significant results.
Application specific analysis routines calculate results that are immediately valuable to scientists and engineers in the field.
In mining applications, automated mineralogy provides quantitative information on size and shape of particles and grains, particle mineralogy, degree of liberation and mineral association.
The results complement bulk chemical assays and together they are used to maximize metal recovery and guide decisions in exploration, mining, mineral processing and metal refining.
In the oil and gas industry, automated mineralogy has been applied in two separate applications: for the Core-to-Pore workflow and for the WellSite formation evaluation.
In the Core-to-Pore workflow, automated mineralogy is a key component to identify areas of interest and evaluate core-to-pore length scale from a few nanometers to one centimeter for unconventional core samples.
For WellSite formation evaluation, drill cuttings and core samples are analyzed using automated mineralogy solutions to provide quantitative lithotype and porosity characteristics of reservoir, seal and source rocks.
The results enhance, validate, and complement seismic, wireline, and mud logs and provide quantitative input into geological models, thus helping to reduce risk in exploration and production.
In the broader fields of environmental and geosciences, inorganic particles - both natural and man-made - are important components of a variety of economically and environmentally significant materials, including: soil, coal, cement, fly ash, and airborne dust.
Their analysis provides scientists with a more detailed understanding in many disciplines, such as the impact of waste and pollution on the environment and health.