Diatomite, a rock formed by the accumulation of opaline diatom frustules, is a preferred raw material for the manufacturing of filters. Its uniqueness relies on the high porosity and inertness of the frustules. The presence of carbonates in some diatomite ores hinders these properties. The purpose of this study was to identify the type of carbonates and their association with the ore in a diatomite deposit, and to assess the suitability of determining the quality of the ore using techniques with potential for in-pit implementation. For this, run-of-mine samples were analysed using environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) and infrared spectroscopy. The ESEM images showed that carbonate is present as cement and laminae. The infrared data revealed that the carbonate minerals correspond to aragonite and calcite, and that their occurrence is linked to the total amount of carbonate in the sample. By using a portable spectral instrument that uses diffuse reflectance, it was possible to classify the spectra of the ore samples based on the carbonate content. These results indicate that infrared technology could be used on-site for determining the quality of the ore, thus providing relevant information to assist the optimisation of mining and beneficiation activities.
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