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By A. Strasheim

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Extra resources for Analytical Chemistry in the Exploration, Mining and Processing of Materials. Plenary Lectures Presented at the International Symposium on Analytical Chemistry in the Exploration, Mining and Processing of Materials, Johannesburg, RSA, 23–27 August 1976

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JON C. VAN LOON 1500 Atomic absorption has built its best reputation as a technique for trace analysis. However in 1960 a paper by B. M. Gatehouse and A. Walsh described a cathodic sputtering absorption atomizer which was applicable to the ana­ lysis of metals in alloys at the per cent level, with high precision. This approach has been ignored by instrument manufacturers and most researchers, including the present writer. However patient work by researchers at CSIRO in Australia has resulted in the development of^ a cathodic sputtering unit which would be suitable for use in most laboratories.

In general these should be in a form and in a matrix similar to that encoun­ tered in the samples. When a fire assay is employed this problem is some­ what simplified. Future directions for emission spectroscopy Discussion, above, refers to work done using arc, spark or high temperature flame, thermal atomizers. The recent development of a commercially avail­ able, inductively coupled, plasma emission spectrometer, is of interest to the noble metal analyst. The very high temperatures reached by the plasma gives promise of a reduction in interelement interference problems.

Evaporation of cyanide solutions into a Pb vessel, followed by cupellation or fire assay is a commonly employed procedure. More recently atomic absorption spectroscopy has been used to analyse cya­ nide solutions. This determination is usually done after a solvent extrac­ tion separation of the Au from the cyanide solution has been accomplished. STANDARD REFERENCE SAMPLES Of ultimate importance in any field of analysis is the accuracy of the results. In the noble metal field the lack, until recently, of any general­ ly available standard reference samples has been a continual source of problems.

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