Analysing and non-destructive testing equipment supplier GammaTec is the exclusive distributor of the handheld X-Ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) analysers, produced by handheld analyser provider SciAps, in non-Francophone African countries as of January this year.
While GammaTec’s strategy is to target and approach mines throughout Africa, the company is still engendering product acceptance and brand recognition for these analysers in South Africa, says GammaTec SciAps product specialist Lyndon Momberg.
“We are new to the market with these analysers. We are in talks with local mines, but haven’t supplied equipment in South Africa yet. With factors such as the Covid-19 outbreak there’s been many challenges. We have many plans in the pipeline that will take off with the lifting of restrictions, but there’s a lot of interest in these products,” he explains.
XRF is a non-destructive analytical method used to determine elemental concentrations in various materials. The portable XRF unit is designed for core analysis, a technique used in exploration to define the mineral content and elements in a sample, or any application requiring high-volume manual testing.
The handheld LIBS unit uses an analytical technique, whereby a laser is used to create a plasma on the sample being analysed. As the plasma cools, characteristic photons are emitted and measured to determine the presence and concentration of elements at the sampled location.
Momberg adds that SciAps, being a fairly new market entrant into the mining sector with these analysers, places more importance on its achieving brand recognition.
He emphasises that SciAps is very active in terms of research and development, which exclusively focuses on handheld analysers. These analysers can, for example, measure lithium in soils, ores and brines, as well as the carbon content in steel.
One of the most significant advantages they provide is instantaneous results, particularly while still in the field, says Momberg. This negates the requirement to extract, package and then send samples to a laboratory to perform analysis.
The analysers can be used in several mining processes, including exploration, metals grading, mine closure and environmental-impact assessments.
Momberg highlights that the products provide many cost-saving opportunities for mines, as the time required to receive results, and the logistic expenses, are reduced.
These reductions can lessen the burden on mines, which are dealing with additional challenges that have arisen, as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, such as an economic downturn and an unfavourable exchange rate.
Further, the laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy of the LIBS unit precludes certain safety regulations, such as the Hazardous Substances Act, 1973, which are required when using an XRF unit that uses X-ray technology.
While instant results provide a significant advantage, Momberg highlights the importance of the full technical support and expertise provided by SciAps, particularly in terms of software- or hardware-related problems, as samples can be sent to SciAps if needed.
“SciAps can basically customise a LIBS or XRF unit for customers. It has had much success with these products in mining, particularly in lithium, gold and copper.”
GammaTec also has equipment – typically used in demonstrations – that it can lend to companies while their unit is being repaired.
The company is available for demonstrations of these tools, either in person or online. SciAps also provides online material, support and demonstrations in this regard.
GammaTec plans to become involved in the development and training of mining personnel by partnering with mining companies, as well as educational institutions such as universities.
“Once we have established a brand name and get a chance to prove what we can do, we’re aiming to become the supplier of choice in terms of handheld analysers. We’re 100% committed to supporting our customers. We want to work with them to find a solution for their analysing problems,” he concludes.