Geological exploration and advanced resource characterisation
General theme: Ore-formation models are developed which allow defining exploration tools, such as geochemical vectors and mineral pathfinders, which can in turn be applied to identify new target areas, like stratigraphic or structural traps. Research focusses on both field work and the integration of analytical techniques such as petrographic, mineralogical and geochemical analyses. This advanced characterisation on a macro- and micro-scale is applied on primary and secondary resources, as a first step in the extraction and recovery of base and critical elements. Due to the often complex mineralogy and/or low content of (critical) metals in primary (minerals, rocks…) and secondary resources (slags, ashes, sludges, concentrates…), a combination of advanced characterisation techniques (e.g. Raman, µ-XRF, LA-ICP-MS, FEG-EPMA, QXRD…) allows to obtain information on both the quantity and distribution of the elements and minerals of interest. This information is for example key to understand and optimise the metal recovery efficiency through particular processes (chemical digestion, thermal treatment….) and to efficiently develop valorisation routes for the residual fractions (see RL4).