Spectro demonstrated new ways to establish the contents of platinum at IMCET in Turkey last week.
The 23rd International Mining Congress and Exhibition of Turkey (IMCET) took place in Antalya from April 16 to 19, 2013.
Spectro claims that its MS inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) can establish the contents of platinum metals with a high precision and sensitivity, to within a few micrograms per kilogram.
The group said such high sensitivity and precision have been made possible by internal standardisation of the instrument.
In conventional material analysis for platinum metals, the sample is first mixed with nickel sulfate and processed to form a fused bead. Platinum metals accumulate in the nickel sulfate, and the rest of the sample can be removed as slag. In the next step, the bead is subjected to a laser impulse.
Using laser ablation, a portion of the material at the sample surface is transformed into a plasma that can be evaluated with an analytical instrument.
“The problem is that the amount of sample that passes into the plasma is strongly dependent on the sample matrix,” explains Willi Barger, specialist for ICP mass spectrometry at SPECTRO.
“If a large portion of the sample substance passes into the plasma, then the instrument measures high concentrations. But if only a small amount is removed, then the contents are low. To minimise the resulting fuzziness, the SPECTRO MS uses nickel, the main component in the bead, as an internal calibration standard.”
Spectro claims that the MS is the first and only ICP mass spectrometer to offer fully simultaneous measurement of the complete organically relevant mass range from 6Li to 238U over a very wide dynamic range.
Whilst able to determine nickel at extremely high concentrations, it says the instrument can also detect the platinum metals group elements at trace levels.
Furthermore, Spectro believes the ICP mass spectrometry form of analysis opens new economic possibilities for platinum metal extraction, allowing decisions to be made about whether it is worthwhile from a given deposit.
Incisive predictions dealing with the achievable amounts during the extraction of platinum metals as secondary products during non-ferrous metals production and the recycling of electronic scrap also can be made.
There may also be benefits in combing through tailings left over from earlier mining.