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Geochemistry / Assay

Geochemistry Overview

The term Geochemical Analysis is used today to describe a multi-element analysis where a large suite of elements are determined to an intermediate level of accuracy. The use of this type of analysis is very dependent on the digestion used and the intended application of the data, i.e. “fitness for purpose”. For example aqua regia extractions are common, but will only dissolve sulphides, some oxides, and perhaps partially highly altered silicates. Resistant phases like zircon, monazite, sphene, chromite, barite and many other minerals, as well as most silicates, are not digested. This will be discussed more fully in the digestion section. Geochemical methods were designed to be a low cost screen for many elements with low detection limits through minimal dilution before analysis. Compromises are made in the analysis to achieve this goal including dilution by “eye” rather than volumetric, as well as the use of instrumental conditions to achieve a maximum amount of data perhaps not optimal for all elements. Matrix effects from the highly concentrated solutions also effects accuracy. Monitoring standards are also perhaps not available for all elements in the package. Despite all this, the accuracy will typically be +/- 5-20% if the analyte is at least 100 times the stated detection limit. This type of analysis is NOT suitable to use if ore reserves are to be calculated.

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