Mineral Insights sheds light on exploration

James Kendall, a professor at the Haileybury School of Mines in Ontario, is the inventor of Mineral Insights

by Julie Matchett
Picture of Mineral Insights optic device.

Mineral Insights is a handheld visible optics device that can detect micron-sized particles of gold, copper, lithium and other minerals. — Photo courtesy Mineral Insights

Like Doc Brown from Back to the Future, James Kendall, president of Gold Sniffer Inc., clearly remembers the time and place when he experienced his own eureka moment. On January 19, 2011, at 6:50 p.m., while on an elliptical machine at the gym, he exclaimed, “Of course! That’s how you do it!” Kendall wasn’t referring to the invention of the flux capacitor which makes time travel possible, but his inspiration does save time for the mining industry.

A professor at the Haileybury School of Mines, Kendall is the inventor of Mineral Insights, a handheld visible optics device that can detect micron-sized particles of gold, copper, lithium and other minerals by zeroing in on their unique visible light signatures. 

“You take a digital camera, a macro lens, and a light source with even illumination, and you can identify mineral features at micron dimensions,” he explained. “This is done by analyzing the digital image of the mineral surface pixel by pixel.”

“Sophisticated algorithms were developed to process the digital image data to identify gold and mineral particles with micro resolution,” Kendall said. “We developed our own computer language to take the measured data and process it automatically.”

Measurements can be achieved on-site on a variety of mineral samples such as drill cores, crushed rock, pulp and sand. Mineral Insights completes its measurement and analysis and displays the detected minerals in just 60 seconds. That quick turnaround time is crucial out in the field.

“What geologists want is an answer and they want it quickly,” Kendall said.

Ease of use is an important feature of Mineral Insights that makes a wide variety of applications practical. Accurate measurements of gold and minerals can be used to accelerate field exploration and to increase gold and mineral recovery and profitability for operations at a mine.

The company is busy developing a comprehensive library of recipes and algorithms that will further enhance the capabilities of Mineral Insights.

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