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Wheal Jane Laboratory

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The latest industry updates from Wheal Jane Laboratory

Scope of Wheal Jane Laboratory’s analysis work continues to grow

In recent months, considerable interest has been shown in analysing for silver in plastics and fabric samples. Several clients have presented a range of materials requiring analysis. Levels identified have ranged from greater than 10,000 ppm to sub-ppm, and have required the use of different methods and instrumentation techniques.

Often used as an antibacterial additive, it is increasingly important for manufacturers to know that the target levels of silver are being achieved.

The laboratory is also currently in the process of managing the disposal of over 140 tonnes of mining test work project sample material. This work has required a detailed sampling survey and an extensive analysis suite to ensure the site is left clean and contamination free, and that the samples are disposed of in accordance with strict Environment Agency guidelines.

7th July 2017

Latest News – April 2017

The laboratory has recently processed its 100,000th sample logged into the management system since unique numbering was adopted as part of the UKAS accreditation process. The milestone sample was a Scotgold carbon sample submitted for ashing and gold recovery as part of the ongoing toll treatment of concentrate from the Cononish mine near Loch Lomond in Scotland.

Latest newsOn a more global scale, recent work has come from every continent. Some of this has been as diverse as gold and platinum analysis from the Philippines, potentially new mineral identification in the Congo, and closer to home we had been undertaking environmental water sample testing down to ppb levels from South Crofty mine just a few miles away!

The water sample testing from South Crofty included looking for lithium dissolved in mine water, as part of recent exploration interest in extracting this highly sought-after mineral used in the battery industry. Lithium is considered relatively rare, but is found all over the world at low levels, with the sea alone calculated to contain many billions of tonnes.

At present, brine pools in parts of North and South America are the main sources of lithium, but it is also found combined in various minerals such as granite pegmatites, normally at low levels, and mostly very difficult to extract. Only time will tell whether Cornwall becomes a global producer!

25th April 2017

Historic Scottish Gold

010Wheal Jane Laboratory’s ability to not only analyse gold to the highest UKAS 17025 standards, but also to extract it from everything from electronic waste and scrap jewellery to gold ores and concentrates has been well documented.

The latest development has seen a combination of the above capabilities producing something of true mining and historical interest. After analysing gold ore and concentrate samples for a mining exploration company in Scotland, a quick calculation revealed just how much gold was contained in the samples. After consulting with the client to obtain agreement, the remaining bulk samples were leached to extract the gold. This was then separated from the other minerals present, precipitated, fired off and cupilated to produce a 5g button of pure 24ct gold.

The client was so pleased with the result that their senior geologist was flown down from Scotland and back in one day so the gold button could be used in a presentation the following day. This button is the first pure gold produced in Scotland from a commercial mining operation.

15th September 2016

Latest News – July 2016

P1050247During the smelting and refining of tin, the slow dripping of molten metal at the end of the pouring or refining stages can sometimes produce very exotic looking creations that are described as ‘tin sculptures’. The tin sculptures are effectively stalagmites of tin that form drip by drip as the molten metal flow slows, and eventually cools and solidifies. Due to even the slightest variations in production and atmospheric conditions, no two sculptures are the same, and often combine and come together, taking on dramatic appearances that are more like works of abstract art.

Recently while toll treating some South Crofty tin concentrate in our pilot scale smelting workshop, a number of these tin sculptures were found whilst clearing out the refining furnace.

31st July 2016

Latest Geostats results are in

The latest results for the Geostats round robin proficiency testing have now been received. This work is an essential part of retaining our UKAS testing status, and is carried out on a regular basis to help ensure the laboratory operates to the highest standards. An expansion of this testing will be required in the near future as Wheal Jane Laboratory further expands its range of analytical methods which are ISO17025 accredited.

1st June 2016

Metals in demand

The latest element to become ‘hot’ as far as demands for analysis is concerned is lithium. Although at present the glass and ceramics industry is still the largest user of lithium, other uses such as lubricating grease and more significantly various forms of batteries has brought an increase in the number of projects and enquires requiring analysis. With the potential for worldwide expansion in the electric car industry using rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, further growth in this area seems inevitable. Wheal Jane Laboratory is well placed for this having methods which include full fusion and ICP/AAS capability and experience gained over many years with numerous projects.

1st June 2016

Busy times for Wheal Jane Laboratory

The need to continually invest and upgrade equipment has seen the installation and commissioning of new fume extraction cabinets and a new extraction system for the main wet chemical and acid digestion laboratory.

The new units have custom-built internal spray and wash-down cleaning facilities in addition to the normal services. They are much more energy efficient than the previous units. Overall flexibility of operation has also been increased and maintenance access improved. The new additions will see the laboratory increasing capacity and efficiency, allowing us to extend our services to more projects.

1st May 2016

Wheal Jane Laboratory offers solution to environmental mining issue

Mining and the processing of mined material, including gold ores and concentrates, in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty has long been an environmental issue. Conflicts between financial and environmental priorities have often restricted exploration and development of small projects and operations that could be beneficial to local communities in terms of job creation and wealth generation.

Wheal Jane Laboratory, in association with other organisations based at the Wheal Jane Earth Science Park, is looking at ways to process gold concentrates at one long established mining location. This means that environmentally sensitive mineral processing techniques such as bulk leaching can be carried out away from areas with restrictions, on a toll basis with no risk to local areas.

Wheal Jane Laboratory already has the ability to process gold concentrates and waste into 24ct gold bars or buttons, and therefore the whole refining process can be carried out on site at Wheal Jane with the final pure gold product simply returned to the client. The Added Value of gold from locations such as Wales and Scotland means this small scale toll processing is not just advantageous environmentally but is also cost effective. Already in 2016 gold ores and concentrates have been sent from Scotland and Wales for testing and processing, with interest expressed from several potential clients.

19th April 2016

New fume cupboards now installed

Fume cupboards 05The need to continually invest and upgrade equipment has seen the installation and commissioning of new fume extraction cabinets and a new extraction system for the main wet chemical and acid digestion laboratory. The new units have custom-built internal spray / wash-down cleaning facilities in addition to the normal services, and are much more energy efficient than the previous units. Overall flexibility of operation has also been increased and maintenance access improved.

19th April 2016

Latest News – March 2016

test goldWheal Jane’s experience in metal analysis, refining and even smelting has been put to good use in the past with projects such as supplying the Royal Mint with tin for the bronze medals in the 2012 London Olympics to extracting platinum group metals from electronic-waste (e-waste).

In particular, the laboratory’s experience with gold analysis of ores, slag, e-waste and even scrap jewellery has resulted in a unique knowledge base which is now being developed into several diverse business opportunities.

The laboratory has the capability to analyse gold to UKAS ISO 17025 standards for ores and geology samples (method M4), but can also carry out gold analysis by XRF and ICP-OES which means that every solution, residue and product in the process can be monitored during the extraction, recycling and refining stages, as well as end bullion determination, ensuring 100% recovery.

Gold has previously been separated as part of the analysis process involving e-waste. This has now been taken a stage further with the actual recovery and final processing of the gold into 24ct bullion in the form of ‘buttons’.

Old scrap jewellery that previously would have been left in drawers or sold for cash can now be taken through an entire process that results in any mixture of purities or even plated gold items being converted to 24ct gold that can then be made back into 9ct or 18ct bespoke jewellery. Not only does this give greatly enhanced financial value, but also the possibility of a unique connection with the original items if they have been inherited but are no longer fashionable or suitable for present day use.

14th March 2016

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