Multielement extraction system for determining 19 trace elements in gold exploration samples

Edited by:
Hausen Donald M.Halbe Douglas N.Petersen Erich U.Tafuri William J.


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A multielement extraction system is being used successfully to provide essentially interference-free geochemical analyses to aid in gold exploration. The Methyl isobutyl ketone-Amine synerGistic Iodide Complex (MAGIC) extraction system separates Ag, As, Au, Bi, Cd, Cu, Ga, Hg, In, Mo, Pb, Pd, Pt, Sb, Se, Sn, Te, Tl, and Zn from interfering geological matrices. Quantitative extraction of these elements is accomplished over a broad range of acid normality making it possible to economically determine all 19 elements from a single digestion or leach solution. The resulting organic extracts are amenable to analysis by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) and flame atomic absorption spectroscopy (FAAS). For many years the principal shortcoming of ICP-AES was the complex spectral and stray-light interferences that were caused by the extreme variability of components such as Fe, Na, and Ca in common geological matrices. The MAGIC extraction allows determination of the extracted elements with enhanced sensitivity, from a virtually uniform matrix, by ICP-AES and FAAS. Because of its simultaneous multichannel capabilities, ICP-AES is the ideal instrumental technique for determining these 19 extracted elements. Ultratrace (sub-part-per-billion) determinations of Au and many of the other extracted elements can be made by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy (GFAAS), following back stripping of the extracts. The combination of the extraction followed by stripping of the organic phase eliminates 99.999% of potential interferences for Au. Gold determination by GFAAS from these extracts under the specified conditions yields a fourfold improvement in sensitivity over conventional GFAAS methods. This sensitivity enhancement and the interference-free matrix allow highly reliable determinations well into the parts-per-trillion range.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
Multielement extraction system for determining 19 trace elements in gold exploration samples
Year Published:
Publ by Soc of Mining Engineers of AIME
Publisher location:
Littleton, CO, United States
First page:
Last page:
Conference Title:
Proceedings of the Gold '90 Symposium - Gold '90
Conference Location:
Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Conference Date:
26 February 1990 through 1 March 1990