An indicator mineral can be almost any mineral that occurs in or close to a mineralisation and
can act as a mineral tracer to the mineralisation. The property that determines whether a mineral
is an indicator mineral can be for instance its trace-element chemistry or the very occurrence
of the mineral itself.
Indicator minerals preferably have high density, do not weather quickly, are easily recognised,
and survive sedimentary transportation. The mineral should have an attribute that makes it
typical for a mineralisation. An indicator mineral has properties that enable it to be concentrated
and separated from a sediment sample.
Unlike regular chemical analyses of sediment samples, indicator-mineral analyses can reveal
information about e.g. mineralisation type or economic potential of a deposit. Examples of
indicator minerals are magnetite, garnet, gahnite, and rutile.
Indicator minerals from the Rietfontein kimberlite in South Africa: garnet and Cr-diopside.
The primary application of indicator minerals is in diamond exploration, where chemical
analyses and occurrences of minerals such as garnet and chromium diopside are of the highest
importance in the hunt for diamonds. Indicator minerals are also applicable to other ore types,
especially since the discovery of the Voiseys Bay Ni–Cu–Co deposit.
Indicator minerals have great potential in exploration programmes for iron, base, precious, and
special metals. Indicator minerals exist for nearly all mineralisation types!
Map: Sweden’s sedimentary deposits. © Swedish Geological Survey
Contrary to chemical analyses of a bulk sediment sample, no large anomalies
are needed. Every single crystal of an indicator mineral contains important
information about the deposit it belongs to.
Sweden’s geology has every necessary prerequisite to include indicator
minerals as an effective supplement in exploration. The Quarternary
glaciations have covered roughly 75% of the Swedish bedrock with
glacial till. Indicator minerals can be of great use in revealing mineral
deposits that are buried beneath the sedimentary blanket (non-red
colours on the map).
To succeed with indicator minerals one needs intelligent sediment
sampling, a mineral-separation laboratory, and most of all knowledge
about the unique properties of indicator minerals. Furthermore one
needs a high-tech analysis laboratory with modern analytical equipment
that can determine the concentration of chemical elements in minerals
from 100% to less than a millionth of a percent.
At Vanguard Minerals AB we are passionate about indicator minerals and are actively researching
new and innovative applications. We streamline existing methods and invent new solutions.
Our goal is to reveal the information that is held within the minerals.
Through Vanguard Minerals AB the opportunity exists to expand today’s exploration process by
supplementing with indicator-mineral studies. To us, indicator minerals are a natural step in a
successful exploration process.
We are hoping for fruitful collaboration opportunities. For more information, do not hesitate
to contact us.
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