Analysis of ultrafine fraction for geochemical exploration

  • Active participant in MRIWA/CSIRO UFF project
  • 3 years’ development of the UFF technique
  • Ongoing R&D into understanding and improvement of this evolving science
  • Laboratory purpose-equipped for high-volume UFF separation and analysis

Many minerals explorers in Australia have found that analysis of the ultrafine fraction of soil samples provides a sensitive signal of underlying ore mineralogy in situations where traditional soil analysis techniques return ambiguous results.

Providing reliable ultrafine analysis requires:

  • a clean environment
  • an understanding of clay behaviours in different soil conditions
  • recognition of adverse indicators
  • ability to analyse small sample portions to low detection limits

LabWest has developed its UltraFines procedures to ensure that samples are processed efficiently in large numbers, whilst being alert to conditions in samples that may require individual attention to ensure correct fines recovery.


The UltraFine+ technique developed through CSIRO/MRIWA research project M462 delivers highly sensitive analysis of gold and multi-elements in the ultrafine (<2µm) fraction of soil samples. The package includes the following:

  • Separation and collection of <2µm fraction
  • Gold and multielement analysis by ICP-MS
  • pH and electrical conductivity of the sample
  • Particle size distribution
  • Clay mineralogy by NIR spectroscopy.

Analysis Options:              


  • Collection of <2µm fraction from soil samples
  • Analysis and reporting of Au plus base metals by ICPMS
  • Retention of fines for later mineralogy and sizing if required (up to 3 months)


  • Collection of <2µm fraction from soil samples
  • Analysis and reporting of Au plus full multielement suite by ICPMS
  • pH and EC of samples
  • Head sample particle size distribution
  • Fines mineralogy by NIR reflectance spectroscopy

Our purpose-selected equipment for UltraFine+ processing includes a Spectro-Analytical RS3500 UV-VIS-NIR spectrometer with bifurcated fibre-optic probe for clay mineralogy, Malvern Mastersizer 2000 with liquid and dry-powder introduction capabilities, Pro-Analytical centrifuges and Milestone Ethos-UP microwave digestion apparatus. Analysis is by Perkin-Elmer Nexion-series ICP-MS.