George Mireku Duker (3rd from left), Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, being briefed at the commissioning of the photonassay laboratory by Intertek Minerals Ghana
George Mireku Duker (3rd from left), Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, being briefed at the commissioning of the photonassay laboratory by Intertek Minerals Ghana

Intertek introduces chemical-free minerals testing technology

A Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, George Mireku Duker, has commissioned a modern mineral testing technology for the extractive sector to enhance environmental sustainability.

Known as the photonassay, it replaces the traditional fire assay method for measuring gold concentrations in samples which came with grave negative environmental impact.

The technology works with a high-level of precision, is chemical-free and does not destroy the environment.

The fire assay, on the other hand, came with a complex and hazardous process, using toxic chemicals and required sample fusion at temperatures up to 1,200 degrees centigrade.

Assaying laboratory

Speaking at the commissioning of a photonassay laboratory by Intertek Minerals Ghana, a mining service company, Mr Duker commended the company for the investment.

He said the natural resource endowment of any country required an array of expertise and technologies to ensure sustainable and optimal exploitation for the benefit of all stakeholders.

“Ghana’s abundant mineral resource anchors its development and continues to be explored and exploited by 500 exploration projects and about 23 large-scale mining operations and 235 service companies respectively,” Mr Duker said. 

Capital-intensive and risky

Mr Duker said due to the capital-intensive and risky nature of the mining industry, optimisation, cost control, innovation and resilience were required as pillars of mining development strategies along its entire value chain.

The new technology with an analytical method that delivers a rapid yet accurate result in an environmentally friendly manner has become even more imperative in making real-time decisions along the mineral value chain.  

The Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, said the installation of the advanced technology in the country represented  groundbreaking progress for the industry and the environment.

He said with the global call on environmental sustainability, “it is heartwarming to note that the introduction of a chemical-free and non-destructive method that exactly measures gold concentrations in samples is a plus.”

Geological Survey

The acting Director-General Ghana Geological Survey Authority, Isaac K. Nwinbelle, said in the mining and mineral exploration fields, precise instrumentation played a critical role as it enabled geologists and mining professionals to gather accurate and reliable data.

With the technology in the country, he said it would offer several advantages and significantly improve the efficiency, accuracy and sustainability of mineral exploration which is a plus for the Ghana Geological Survey Authority which had the mandate by Act (928), 2016 to conduct geological investigations leading to the discovery of minerals to support sustainable exploitation of the country’s mineral resources.

He gave an assurance that the photonassay would also minimise environmental impact, resource estimation and grade control; lower exploration costs and ultimately support investment decision-making.

The Senior Vice President Minerals – Exploration and Production, John Fowler, said the company's introduction of photonassay technology at its Tarkwa laboratory showed its level of commitment to growth in the sector. 

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