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Eurofins Mineral Testing is close to the customer

In all industrial processes, including mining industry, the operations are optimized so that the amount of waste is minimized. The most important tool in optimizing the process is analysis. It is important to know the raw material, the product and the possible side streams or waste materials. Someone’s waste can be someone else’s raw material, and this is why knowing as much as possible about these materials is important. Nowadays, when mines are also looking at their carbon footprint, it is important to include the whole chain, also the service providers.

There are some big laboratory companies serving mining industry. Common for these players is that they have their sample preparation laboratories close to the sites, but the actual analyses are done in large hub-laboratories, often far from the actual mine site, where the samples are transported by plane. Eurofins Mineral Testing is an exception in the service model. In their three laboratories, based in Sodankylä, Kuopio and Outokumpu in Finland, the samples are collected, prepared and analyzed in the same place. At best, the analysis results are delivered within minutes from arrival of the samples. Normally the turnaround time is everything between a couple of days to a few weeks, depending on customer’s needs. Also, as the laboratory is close to the customer, it is easy to communicate with the experts in the laboratory, if there is need for changing the analysis method or prioritizing sample batches over others. On the other hand, communication is easy also from the laboratory towards the customer, if there are exceptional grades or a need to clarify something. It is common that the customers come to audit the processes of the laboratory, even in short notice. Being an accredited laboratory, for Eurofins Mineral testing site visits from the customers are always a pleasure, not an event causing gray hair.

The basis of the quality control is that all Eurofins laboratories are following the ISO 17025 quality manual. Eurofins Mineral Testings’ laboratories are accredited according to this quality standard, being among the first laboratories serving the mining industry to have the accreditation. Laboratories following the ISO 17025 quality manual have common criteria which are followed annually by the local authority (FINAS in Finland and SWEDAC in Sweden). Eurofins Mineral Testing is using standard reference libraries and BAT methods to find the best combinations of analyses to meet the customer requirements. If needed, the experts from Eurofins Mineral Testing can help in selecting the suitable method.

There are different obligations for companies about the chemical assays. Some of the monitoring requirements are stated by authorities, but, especially in exploration, the internationally accepted codes for reporting give the guidelines about sampling, assaying and reporting the results. All deposits are chemically unique, and some sample matrices may need tailored methods to make sure the analysis is correct and reliable. Together with the customer, Eurofins Mineral Testings’ specialist can create the most suitable treatment packages for the deposit – or sample type – in concern. Often the widest possible suite with the whole periodic table of the elements is not the best solution, even if, especially in exploration, the more you know about the chemistry of your samples, the better. But, one can wonder if the time and money consuming four acid digestion, which gives even traces from traces, is always necessary. For example well performed XRF or total peroxide fusion give the same information with fewer costs and even days earlier.

Some samples and analysis types are, however, such that they are used only in long-term monitoring of the operation, when they are taken and analyzed only rarely. At Eurofins Mineral Testing all analyses are done within required time limits without compromising the quality.

All services are close to the customer

The service concept of Eurofins is to be close to customers. At the moment, Eurofins has three laboratories serving the mining industry forming the unique Mineral Testing cluster. The units are specialized for serving operating mines, exploration and research. Also tailings and side products, as well as concentrates are analysed in routine. All units are in areas where there are mines and active prospecting. Closest to mines in Northern Sweden is the Sodankylä laboratory, which can be reached within five hours from nearly all active mines above Umeå. This means, that if the samples are sent by truck early in the morning, in theory they can be in sample preparation already the same evening, or at latest next morning. If required, the first assay results can be delivered within a few days from sending the samples. It has to be remembered, that some analysis methods, like four acid digestion, which is a routine analysis in Kuopio laboratory, require days to be ready. 

As can be seen from the map above, in the vicinity of Sodankylä laboratory, we find the biggest gold mine in Europe, several iron mines and big base metal mines. Also, exploration is active in the central Lapland Greenstone belt and in Norrbotten region. Fire Assay results for gold and platinum can, at best, guide the movement of the drill rig on exploration site. 

Eurofins Mineral Testing has also many years’ experience on planning and running on-site laboratories. These laboratories are planned together with the customer, to serve the mine on their daily routine analyses on raw materials and concentrates. These laboratories are such that the results are delivered nearly in real time. The on-site services are built together with the customer, to confront the customer requirements and needs.

Case Base metal mine – all assays from the same place

There is a big base metal mine close to Sodankylä. All their assays are performed in Eurofins Mineral testings’ Sodankylä laboratory. The grade control samples arrive in the morning, with the same bus on which the night shift is returning from work. First results are delivered during the same day, when the XRF analysis is performed. Also, they have some additional diamond drilling on site and regional exploration sites, from where the samples are analyzed with several different methods. Results are usually delivered within a couple of weeks. Also, the quality control samples and the shipping samples from the concentrate plant are analyzed with the same quality and precision as the samples requiring faster turnaround time.

Several mines in Finland are using Eurofins Environment testing for their environmental monitoring. The same concept is possible to arrange also in Sweden, where Eurofins Environment Testing Sweden is operating as a local partner in environmental monitoring. 

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