A study was initiated to evaluate the potential of co-product minerals and metals in Alberta's oil sand deposits. Phase I, which comprises this study, concentrated on determining suitable methods of sampling and analysis. The goal is to determine the concentration of elements in oil sand as a function of: geological facies; the bitumen phase; the organic phase.
Two cores from the Sandalta oil sand lease (mineable oil sands lease 30) were selected for this phase of the study. The cores were elected to represent the main geological facies present. One core contains a good section of rich oil sand. The other contains a section of lower grade oil sand and waste.
Methods for sampling cores and extracting representative samples were explored. Recommended procedures are outlined in the report. Methods for determining the presence and concentration of 55 elements were also explored. Methods chosen for the work program included: induced neutron activation analysis (INAA or INA); induced coupled plasma (ICP); fire assay.
Each method of analysis is suitable for some elements and not for others. The neutron activation method has inherent advantages so was used wherever it was suitable. ICP was used as a back-up. Fire assay methods were used to detect the extent of precious metals.
Two hundred samples were extracted from the cores and prepared for elemental analysis. In addition a limited number of samples were obtained to examine different grades of ore, different types of tailings, and leachate from a pilot plant that was investigating extraction of aluminum from tailings material.
In all over 10,000 analyses were performed. Analysis work was split between three laboratories to allow completion in the time available. The data was analyzed statistically, by comparing duplicate analyses, by plotting trends, by cross plotting results and by plotting the results on bore hole logs.
Devenny, D.W. (1993): Phase 1 of a study to assess the potential of co product minerals and metals in Alberta's oil sand deposits.; Alberta Research Council, ARC/AGS Open File Report 1993-24, 244 p.