Radiometric Techniques in Heavy Mineral Exploration and Exploitation

Exploration & Mining Geology, Vol. 3, No. 4, 1994

R.J. de MEIJER, I.C. TANCZOS and C. STAPEL, Environmental Radioactivity Research Group, Kernfysisch Versneller Instituut, the Netherlands

In recent years the Environmental Research Group of the KVI has been developing a number of radiometric techniques that may be employed in mineral sand exploration. These techniques involve: radiometric fingerprinting for assessing sand provenances and mineralogical composition; thermoluminescence for dating and provenance determination of sediments; a towed seabed detector to map seafloors for radiogenic heavy minerals and assessing heavy mineral volumes; and simplified transport mechanism models to explain and predict heavy mineral concentrations. All techniques exploit the property that heavy minerals as a group contain concentrations of naturally occurring uranium and thorium that are a hundred to a thousand times higher than in light minerals. In this paper the physics of a number of methods will be described together with a number of results. Based on these results potential applications to mineral exploration and mining are discussed.