Utilizing the isotopic and trace element fingerprint of sphalerite for traceability applications



Christina Wanhainen


Purpose and goal

The project aims at collecting data and compile the first database on the trace element and metal isotopic composition of sphalerite from Zn-producing mines in Sweden. The resulting dataset will be interrogated using multivariate methods to define the analytical fingerprints of sphalerite from each deposit. The project will thus derive an independent traceability criteria which can be used for validating results based on other techniques, such as block-chain, or for assessing materials where block-chain data is not available.

Expected results and effects

The project will pioneer establishing a national data base on the trace element and stable isotope composition of sphalerite from producing deposits in Sweden, and also be the first study to utilize multiple metal isotopic and trace element ratios for discrimination methods relevant to traceability applications globally. Expected effects are (among other) support-criteria for certifying Zn concentrates from Swedish mines and improved baseline isotopic and trace element data for tracing or constraining environmental pollutants related to Zn mining operations.

Planned approach and implementation

An inventory of available rock samples from previous work will be built and complementary sampling be conducted in collaboration with the industry stakeholders to ensure a complete dataset of representative samples covering a range of ore types. Geochemical and isotopic analysis will be performed and a dataset compiled. The dataset will be analyzed using multivariate methods, and compared to published data from other deposits globally. Powerful parameters for traceability workflows will be identified, as well as key areas for a follow-up innovation project.

More information

Presentation slides from Swedish Mining Innovation Program day 2020