Portable XRF-analyser

Use of portable XRF-analyser for drill core and in-pit analyses for instant geochemical results

European UnionGermany


Instant results, non-destructive method, large numbers of analyses can be obtained quickly and inexpensively, data can be stored easily, makes time-consuming lab analyses in many cases obsolete.


Portable XRF analysers allow in-situ chemical analyses of soils, rocks, and ores in outcrop, drill core or mine walls (open pit and underground). Measuring time is 20-30 seconds and results can be used instantly and stored. Macroscopically invisible mineralisation or obscured mineralisation (e.g. Zn-silicates or disseminated chalcocite in carbon-rich, dark grey metasediments) can be identified easily. Expensive and time-consuming (delayed results) laboratory  analyses can be used more sparingly or even avoided. No sample preparation is necessary. Originally invented to detect toxic lead in wall paint, subsequently used for metal composition estimation in scrap metal. It is now used widely in the EU and world wide. Not recognised in policy making.

Impact on the mining value chain


  • streamlined permitting procedures
  • safe and fast remote exploration
  • reduced environmental impact


  • reduced grade deposit mining
  • safer and more efficient greater depth extraction

Mine closure / Waste

  • mining waste reuse/recycling/valorisation
  • mine site reclamation/rehabilitation for subsequent uses


A technique, originally invented for toxicity control has taken over from laborious, expensive, and time-consuming laboratory analyses in exploration, extraction and mineral processing

Impact area(s): 

Economic, Financial flows and profitability
Impact on listed area: 

+: Cheaper compared to laboratory analysis

Economic, Competitiveness
Impact on listed area: 

+: Provides faster analysis results

Innovation drivers and barriers
Cost savings, time savings, efficiency improvements
Analytical industry that developed these hand-held machines and achieved miniaturisation and market entry successfully. There is a big market for these machines now.
Sceptical chemists in stationary laboratories - they tried to bad-mouth this (potentially) competing technique

Good practice areas

Resource security
Resource identification and resource characterisation
Economic sustainability
Reduction of analytical laboratory costs and quick delivery time of results (instantly)

Organisations involved

Various exploration and mining companies, scrap metal dealers and smelters, universities and research institutions played a role in the development.

Innovation category