Two new rapid and accurate methods are presented for determining mercury in low-grade ores and tailings: (1) A combustion-atomic absorption technique is described wherein a small sample of finely pulverized ore is heated to about 700°C, and the vaporized Hg is detected by atomic
absorption. This method is suitable for determining Hg in the 0.1–5.0 lb/ton range, and the precision is about,5% coefficient of variation; (2) an x-ray fluorescence method is described wherein the unweighed, finely ground sample is merely packed into a holder, and the Hg line-to-background
ratio is obtained. The problem of matrix effects is avoided by preparing standards to simulate the type of ore being analyzed. The method is suitable for determining Hg over a wide concentration range, with a lower limit of about 0.1 lb/ton. The precision, based on the analysis of a 2.0 lb/ton
Hg ore, is about 5% coefficient of variation. These two techniques are compared to the commonly used Whitton and Bureau of Mines methods.
Reno Metallurgy Research Center, Bureau of Mines, U. S. Department of the Interior, Reno, Nevada 89505
Publication date: March 1, 1972
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