Mineral Technology focusses on the properties of geological materials having in mind to promote their adequate integration in the respective industrial value chain.
It is known that chemical elements occur in the upper crust under very low concentrations, such that they cannot be exploited unless we look for the respective mineral deposits, which are privileged places where the natural geological processes have produced enrichment of those elements several orders of magnitude (hundreds or thousands) their average grade in the crust.
However, although mineral deposits are rare and an extraordinary concentration, materials extracted are still too poor to be used, meaning that a second technological enrichment step is needed to produce true mineral raw material able to feed industries in the next steps of the value chain – metallurgy and manufacturers.
Mineral Technology is, precisely, this technological step, which includes three main vectors:
- Bulk chemical characterization of geological materials – quantification of rocks’ major and minor elements, using different techniques and quantification limits;
- Mineralogy of geological materials – identification of the relevant mineral phases that host the valuable chemical elements and of the correlated physical properties and modelling (experimental, “ab-initio”, “multiscale molecular dynamics”, etc.) of the behavior of those materials when incorporated in artifacts;
- Technological characterization and mineral processing – characterization and upgrading of the minerals natural properties, industrial rocks and ores before entering in the more advanced steps of the industrial value chain.
These vectors are applied to several types of geological materials:
- Metallic ores
- Industrial minerals
- Dimension and ornamental stones
- Natural mineral waters
Giving support to projects of:
- Exploration of mineral deposits
- Technical characterization of industrial minerals and rocks, including the dimension stones
- Textural and quantitative mineralogy
- Mineral Processing for the valorization of mineral raw materials
Using different techniques and methods:
- Chemical analysis (classic methods; AA, XRF, Plasma, IC)
- Optical Microscopy, EPMA and XRD
- Technical testwork
- Mineral Processing batch and experimental intensification tests (piloting)