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Ministry of Energy Mines and Responsible for Core Review

GeoFile 2012-01:  Use of Portable XRF in Evaluation of Rare Earth Element-bearing Phosphate Deposits

Mineral Exploration Roundup 2012 Poster

by G.J. Simandl, R. Fajber, E.A. Prussin, S. Paradis and K. Grattan


View GeoFile 2012-1 (PDF, 3.5 MB)


Thirty-two samples of phosphate rock (pulps) from the Fernie Formation (south-eastern British Columbia) were analysed using a hand-held XRF analyser  (Thermo Scientific Niton XL3t) and a lithium metaborate fusion–inductively coupled plasma method (LMB-ICPMS). The results from both methods were compared; correction factors for the portable XRF analyser were established and the effectiveness of the correction procedure tested. As any instrument type designed for field use, hand-held XRF analysers have to be light and compact. This translates into some technical limitations relative to their much larger laboratory counterparts that operate in chemically inert settings, benefit from elaborate sample preparation and use large power sources.  However, if correction factors are established, hand-held instruments can be used systematically and very effectively in exploration for phosphate deposits by analyzing samples directly for phosphorus (P) and  identifying zones of phosphate rock that are enriched in rare earth elements (REE). The hand-held XRF can also be used in spotting zones with unacceptable levels of deleterious elements such as U, Th, As, Se, Cd, Pb etc. 


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