Prediction of acid rock drainage potential using XRF/XRT drill core scanning


Mattias Bäckström




Purpose and goal

The aim is to determine the possibility for analyzing acid-base properties in exploration drill cores using the GeoCore X10 drill core scanner (XRF/XRT). By adding the acid-base data early to the mine plan, there is a possibility for substantial cost savings and improved environmental performance when it comes to waste rock management (i.e. less acid rock drainage). More detailed information might also improve community trust and dialogue with regulators regarding waste management and acid drainage prevention.

Expected results and effects

Being able to obtain a better understanding during the early stages of a mining project for estimating what the acid-forming potential looks like in the rock that will be mined means that large cost savings can be made by being able to better handle potentially acid-forming waste rock. This also leads to significantly better leachate quality from the waste rock dumps generated in connection with the mining operations. It is also possible that the increased amount of data linked to potential acid formation will lead to increased confidence among the public and licensing authorities.

Planned approach and implementation

Determine the possibility of quantifying the global sulfide content for potential acid generation and the buffering minerals (carbonates and silicates) with low attentuation elements using the drill core scanner. Calibration and verification using drill cores from different mineralizations. Calibration will also be performed by determining the conventional acid-base accounting (ABA; reference method) and other supporting mineralogical analysis. Determine signal from XRT and XRF for different sulfide and buffering minerals (smaller samples).