Hyperfine Interactions

, Volume 226, Issue 1–3, pp 721–735 | Cite as

The South African industry use of Mössbauer spectroscopy to solve operational problems

  • Frans B. Waanders
  • Antoinne F. Mulaba-Bafubiandi
  • Lonzeche Lodya


South Africa is a country that is very rich in mineral resources but the use of Mössbauer spectroscopy to solve operational industrial problems is however very limited. In the Bushveld Igneous Complex the main minerals extracted from the ore are the platinum group metals and chromium, but secondary recovery of base metals such as nickel, copper and cobalt forms an integral part of the process. Losses of nickel in the slag can amount to about 4 % and subsequent a slag cleaning furnace is used to reduce the loss to less than 0.5 % nickel oxide. The Fe2+/Fe3+ ratio and mineralogy was used to determine the partial oxygen pressure in the furnaces and also the efficiency of the nickel recovery. From the Mössbauer results, augmented with XRD, SEM, EMP-WDX and MLA analyses, optimum conditions were determined to ensure minimum metal losses. The use of Mössbauer spectroscopy in the coal industry, to investigate mineral changes that occur during its use, is also of importance. The main minerals present in coal were determined with the aid of various techniques, such as Mössbauer, XRD, SEM and HR-TEM, with the major iron minerals found to be pyrite, illite, ankerite and jarosite. A large quantity of coal is used to produce syngas via gasification plants for the production of synthetic fuels. The change of the mineral matter during gasification was studied and the changes occurring during the gasification process were followed. The syngas produced, is further treated by means of the Fischer–Tropsch process where an iron catalyst is incorporated in the process. The usefulness and fouling of the catalyst is being studied with the aid of Mössbauer spectroscopy. The calibration of equipment to determine work hardening in mining equipment was also investigated and found to be a useful tool in industry. From the above few examples it is evident that, although used on a limited base, Mössbauer spectroscopy, augmented by various other spectroscopic tools, still ensures optimal recovery and production of the vast resource base of South Africa.


Nickel FeFe2+/Fe3+ ratio Coal Syngas Iron minerals Mineral changes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frans B. Waanders
    • 1
  • Antoinne F. Mulaba-Bafubiandi
    • 2
  • Lonzeche Lodya
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Chemical and Minerals EngineeringNorth West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa
  2. 2.Mineral Processing and Technology Research Center, Department of Metallurgy, School of Mining, Metallurgy and Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and The Built EnvironmentUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.Sasol Technology (Pty) Limited, R&D.SasolburgSouth Africa

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