LoCoSu MRE Portable XRF and rock samples

High technology metals (e.g., REEs, P, Co, In, Ga, Ge, and W) play an essential role in innovative and green technologies. They are essential for the future of economic growth and securing unhindered access to those materials is a growing concern. The European Union classifies high technology metals as critical raw materials since their production is concentrated in a few countries leading to a high supply risk.

The LoCoSu project aims at exploring the use of technologically advanced, yet low-cost field portable instruments for the characterization of high technology metals. Combined with classical field methods (conventional mineralogical and petrographic tests), this innovative low-cost approach is particularly suited for in-situ tests. Field portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and infrared (IR) instruments can be used to analyse the chemical composition and to determine the mineral phases of a rock directly in the field, and can be applied to problems along the mining value chain. The rapidly collected data allow for real-time assessments and decision-making in exploration and grade control, and facilitate environmental monitoring.

A large number of the critical raw materials occurs in countries of Subsaharan Africa, many occurrences are not yet discovered or developed, whereas others are produced in small-scale mining. A chronic lack of financial support and a deficiency of laboratory infrastructure limits the evaluation of new resources and environmental monitoring in Subsaharan Africa. In collaboration with our African partners form the University of Namibia (UNAM), the University of Zambia (UNZA), the Geological Survey of Namibia (GSN) and the Organisation of African Geological Surveys (OAGS), we develop and improve methods for the evaluation of critical high technology metal resources.

The main aims of the BMBF-funded LoCoSu project are to:

  • Optimize portable pXRF methods to qualitatively and quantitatively identify high-technology metal ores
  • Recommend standard operating procedures and analytical protocols for pXRF analysis of high-technology elements
  • Collaborate with and train the next generation of earth scientists and mine-site professionals

For further information please visit the Website of the MRE.