Abstract

The field-portable X-ray fluorescence (FPXRF) spectrometer has evolved significantly in the last decade and became one of the most innovative tools for field geologists. Portability and ease of use of FPXRF systems have opened up new and unique applications for even novice technicians. Application of FPXRF in precious metals exploration and mining appears to be challenging due to their low concentrations (lower than detection limit by FPXRF) in nature and even in most ore deposits. This case study shows the success of FPXRF in identifying anomalous zones of platinum group elements (PGE) and Au (target elements) using pathfinder elements in the Pilanesberg PGE deposit, Bushveld Complex, South Africa. Sixty-three core samples were analyzed using both FPXRF and laboratory methods. In these samples, Pt < 8ppm, Pd <5 ppm, and Au <1 ppm which were not detected by FPXRF; however, Ni and Cu are up to 6540 and 3560 ppm, respectively, which were easily detected by FPXRF. These elements show positive correlation with the precious metals indicating that they can be used as pathfinder. Both direct-shot analyses of core samples and their pulverized specimen assays show correlation with lab assay data suggesting that both methods can be used in the field; however, the accuracy of direct-shot data is lower due to heterogeneity of samples.

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