The IIC/AIF project provided seed money for the development of the
MicroAnalysis Facility (MAF-IIC) in order to carry out the following
Geochemical-Mineralogical Characterization of Voisey’s Bay
The Voisey's Bay ore deposit of northern Labrador begins
production in late 2005. Understanding the mineralogy of the deposit
is of utmost importance for optimal mineral processing and ore
To address these needs, Memorial and VBNC/Inco Ltd geologists have
undertaken detailed ore characterization studies before mining has
begun. Ongoing work involves systematic detailed petrography,
electron probe microanalysis, laser ablation microprobe ICP-MS, and
X-ray fluorescence analysis of the ores.
The study will be extended using new instrumentation in MAF-IIC.
Representative samples from each of the mineral deposits at
Voisey’s Bay have been collected and examined to determine the
mineralogy, crystal chemistry of the minerals and their trace element
The data show that there are various mineralogical domains within
the deposit reflecting a variety of formation conditions. A
genetic model of the mineralizing process will be developed from
these results for applications to exploration and mineral resource
evaluations. Definition of mineral domains is also useful for mine
planning and improved metal recoveries during processing.
“Geometallurgy” is increasingly recognized as a
distinct research area in the mining industry and the IIC will be
one of only a few academic institutions worldwide with this
This is a pioneering project in terms of close collaboration
between university and industry researchers and will be a hallmark
of the INCO Innovation Centre. The long term goal is to apply the
methods developed in the Voisey’s study to the evaluation of
other ores – in particular to assess the genetic processes
that concentrate the metals of interest within a mineral deposit.
Development of In Situ Methods for Chemical and Mineralogical
MicroAnalyses at Memorial
New instrumentation for imaging and in situ analysis of minerals,
particularly accessory phases, is revolutionizing petrology and ore
geology. The SEM/MLA, LA-ICPMS and SIMS instruments in MAF-IIC will
be combined to provide a unique capability for determining
quantitative mineral associations, parent magma compositions and
crystallization and deformational ages in rocks and ores.
Both elemental and isotopic compositions may be determined on
scales of 10 to 100 micrometres within individual mineral grains.
Accessory minerals such as zircon, baddeleyite, apatite, sphene and
monazite record rich histories of the age and conditions of
crystallization and deformation in rocks, particularly where their
spatial relationships to major minerals can be documented.
Several initial student research projects in MAF-IIC will use
accessory mineral composition and age to address the origin of
ore-associated and barren troctolites, anorthosites and
metasedimentary rocks in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Other work will involve study of some of the world’s oldest
known materials, zircon crystals from Greenland and Western
Australia. The same tools may be used to analyze non-mineral
objects of research interest such as metal alloys for engineering
and surface science studies, the hard parts of calcareous shells
for environmental investigations and archaeological artefacts.