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X-ray Fluorescence and Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy Analysis of Li-Rich Minerals in Veins from Argemela Tin Mine, Central Portugal

Ribeiro, R; Capela, D; Ferreira, M; Martins, R; Jorge, P; Guimaraes, D; Lima, A;


In this work, X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) analyses were applied to samples of quartz, montebrasite, and turquoise hydrothermal veins in the Argemela Tin Mine (Central Portugal). Montebrasite (LiAl(PO4)(OH,F)) is potentially the main ore mineral; with its alteration, lithium (Li) can disseminate into other minerals. A hand sample was cut and analyzed by XRF and LIBS for several elements of interest including Cu, P, Al, Si, and Li. Although XRF cannot measure Li, results from its analysis are effective for distinguishing turquoise from montebrasite. LIBS analysis complemented this study, making it possible to conclude that turquoise does not contain any significant Li in its structure. The difference in spot size between the techniques (5 mm vs. 300 µm for XRF and LIBS, respectively) resulted in a poorer performance by XRF in accurately identifying mixed minerals. A thin section was petrographically characterized and mapped using LIBS. The mapping results demonstrate the possibility of the successful identification of minerals and their alterations on a thin section. The results of XRF analysis and LIBS mapping in petrographic sections demonstrate the efficacy of these methods as tools for element and mineral identification, which can be important in exploration and mining phases, complementing more traditional techniques.