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Application of Petrographic Techniques to Assess in Situ Leach Mining Potential.
Brink-SE; Saini-Eidukat-B; Earley-D III
MISSING :14 pages
The U.S. Bureau of Mines is investigating the potential of in situ leach mining a variety of cu, mn, and au-ag ores. Geologic characterization of ore samples from laboratory leaching experiments is conducted both prior to and after leaching to assess the effects of leaching on the chemistry, mineralogy, and texture of the rocks. The identification and chemical compositions of ore, gangue, and reaction products are determined by a combination of techniques such as reflected and transmitted light microscopy, x-ray diffraction, electron diffraction, electron microprobe analysis, and backscattered electron imaging with scanning electron microscopy. The distribution of the desired metal in various mineral phases can be illustrated using elemental x-ray maps. The potential of reactive gangue minerals to rob cu from leach solutions is investigated with the aid of transmission electron microscopy. Porosity and permeability are measured to determine how effectively the host rock can transmit leach solution. Textural relationships between ore, gangue, secondary reaction products, and fluid channelways are determined by petrographic examination and are documented by optical photomicrographs and secondary electron imaging. Representative sample selection is described, and several epoxy impregnation and sample mounting techniques are discussed.
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Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division