Mineral Liberation Analysis (MLA)

The Scanning Electron Microscopy Laboratory specializes in Mineral Liberation Analysis. Both SEMs are equipped with sophisticated software that allows quantitative evaluation of abundances, associations, sizes and shapes of minerals in an automated systematic fashion.

The technique first relies on backscattered electron imaging (BEI) as a measure of average atomic number, for discriminating grain boundaries, and then offers a variety of x-ray options for classifying the grains as recognised minerals using a mineral reference list. Whereas the minerals industry has long used MLA for epoxy-embedded grain mounts, our researchers have expanded the scope of quantified mineral associations to include mineral assemblages within traditional polished rock thin sections and trans-vertical grain mounts as well.


  • D. C. Grant, D. J. Goudie & E. Baird (2018) Analysis of 98 individual −200 mesh iron ore samples in a single scanning electron microscope-automated mineralogy session, Applied Earth Science, 127:1, 38-43, DOI: 10.1080/03717453.2017.1422335

  • D. C. Grant, D. J. Goudie, C. Voisey, M. Shaffer & P. Sylvester (2018) Discriminating hematite and magnetite via Scanning Electron Microscope–Mineral Liberation Analyzer in the −200 mesh size fraction of iron ores, Applied Earth Science, 127:1, 30-37, DOI: 10.1080/03717453.2017.1422334

  • D.H.C. Wilton, G.M. Thompson, and D.C. Grant (2017). The use of automated indicator mineral analysis in the search for mineralization – A next generation drift prospecting tool. Explore, 174, 1-18.

  • D. C. Grant, D. J. Goudie, M. Shaffer & P. Sylvester (2016) A single-step trans-vertical epoxy preparation method for maximising throughput of iron-ore samples via SEM-MLA analysis, Applied Earth Science, 125:1, 57-62, DOI: 10.1080/03717453.2015.1104056

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