Manganese is a transition metal that is used in several highly valuable applications, including the production of alloys (i.e., stainless steels) and batteries. Manganese is particularly critical in Li-ion battery cathodes, where it is used to stabilise nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) materials, improving performance and ensuring that the battery can operate safely.
The first step in manganese production, regardless of final application, is the mining and refinement of manganese ore. Understanding the composition of the ore allows for appropriate refinement processes to be used that generate the purest materials possible. This also means that manganese ore prices can vary greatly, as high-quality ores require less refinement. This makes precise ore characterisation paramount for accurate distribution and processing.
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy is a commonly used analytical technique for the accurate chemical analysis of ores. XRF is a preferred method in mining and refining applications as it is quick, non-destructive and requires minimal sample preparation. In this application note, a Thermo Scientific ARL OPTIM’X XRF spectrometer is used to analyse several elements/oxides in ores in a matter of minutes. Given the high volumes of manganese ore mined annually, every minute saved in its characterisation can make a significant difference in overall throughput.