Identification and accurate characterization of platinum-group minerals (PGMs) is usually a very cumbersome procedure due to their small grain size (typically below 10 µm) and inconspicuous appearance under reflected light. A novel strategy for finding PGMs and quantifying their composition was developed. It combines a mineral liberation analyzer (MLA), a point logging system, and electron probe microanalysis (EPMA).
As a first step, the PGMs are identified using the MLA. Grains identified as PGMs are then marked and coordinates recorded and transferred to the EPMA. Case studies illustrate that the combination of MLA, point logging, and EPMA results in the identification of a significantly higher number of PGM grains than reflected light microscopy. Analysis of PGMs by EPMA requires considerable effort due to the often significant overlaps between the X-ray spectra of almost all platinum-group and associated elements. X-ray lines suitable for quantitative analysis need to be carefully selected. As peak overlaps cannot be avoided completely, an offline overlap correction based on weight proportions has been developed. Results obtained with the procedure proposed in this study attain acceptable totals and atomic proportions, indicating that the applied corrections are appropriate.