Handheld XRF analyzers have become extremely valuable to exploration drilling. There are many advantages to being able to acquire real-time results in minutes, or even seconds, as opposed to waiting days or even weeks for the Lab to deliver your results. A handheld XRF analyzer can literally guide your exploration drilling efficiently and effectively while saving money in a variety of ways.
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When conducting exploration drilling in a remote location, it can be very expensive to send core to the lab. If you’re sending core via helicopter, the costs can exceed budget very quickly. A handheld XRF analyzer allows you to analyze the core before loading it onto the helicopter to make certain the core you are choosing to send to the lab is not barren. Once you have a correlation between the lab and the XRF analyzer, you can use the data from the instrument to determine the geochemistry of a hole in real time. The time, effort and money saved adds up very quickly.
There are two techniques typically used when analyzing core. One technique, spot testing, relies on the geologist operating the XRF to use his depth of knowledge and ability to identify areas of the core where he/she can visually see metals. The other technique is a scanning technique where the operator drags the XRF up and down the core analyzing where they can visually see minerals as well as where they can visually identify there does not appear to be any minerals to get an average result of the entire core. There are many nuances involved in each of these techniques, but spot testing tends to work better on nuggety core so as not to get a false high reading of the average mineral content of the core.