Wales and Business Development in Finland

Published on 19 December 2019

X-ray Mineral Services (XMS), a Welsh company based in Colwyn Bay, announces its recent participation in a collaboration with the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) to promote and develop business links between the UK and Finland. As part of this initiative, two geologists with XMS, Stephen Jones and Dr Lorenza Sardisco, travelled to Helsinki this month to present a 1-day course on Quantitative X-ray Diffraction (QXRD) at GTK’s headquarters, organised by Alan Butcher, Professor of Geomaterials and Applied Mineralogy. The participants on this course included GTK geologists, and representatives from other companies based in the Helsinki area looking to improve their knowledge and understanding of the specialist analytical techniques which are used by XMS to identify and quantify ore types, and especially those associated with Battery Minerals.

As part of their visit to Helsinki, Stephen Jones and Lorenza Sardisco were invited to the British Embassy to meet with Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Finland, HMA Tom Dodd, to discuss business development opportunities between the UK and Finland, and in particular the provision of geological services to Finnish-based organisations by X-ray Mineral Services.

L to R: Stephen Jones (XMS), HMA Tom Dodd, Lorenza Sardisco (XMS), Alan Butcher (GTK)

This development follows on from the participation of XMS and GTK in the BATCircle project – a 22 M€ Business Finland initiative, led by Aalto University, involving research into the Circular Economy of Battery Metals (BATCircle). The key objective of the BATCircle project is to find ways of adding value to the battery metals sector. This will be achieved by more efficient screening and utilisation of mineral resources, enhancement of the metal refining processes, more efficient recycling of battery metals, improved co-operation between the companies and research organisations, as well as through the identification of new business opportunities between partners.

The UK is facing an unprecedented energy challenge with the recent announcement that all combustion engines (petrol & diesel engines) will be progressively phased out by 2040 and replaced with electric vehicles. Current battery technology solutions require that minerals such as cobaltite (CoAsS), chalcopyrite (CuFeS2), spodumene (LiAl(SiO3)2), pentlandite ((Fe,Ni)9S8), and graphite (C) will all be required for the production of battery metals (Co, Cu, Li, Ni, C) and materials (anode, cathode, electrolyte). And yet world mining statistics all suggest that current known resources will not be enough to supply this anticipated huge demand. More battery minerals are therefore required to be identified from the UK, Europe and beyond.

X-ray Mineral Services is a company specializing in X-ray diffraction (XRD) mineralogical and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) elemental analysis for upstream oil and gas companies and large geological service consultancy groups. The company has also established a successful non-oil & gas analytical business with customers in the extractive, geotechnical, environmental, recycling and academic sectors and provides quality control data for tile, brick and ceramic manufacturers. In addition, it offers expert advisory services on mineralogical issues. The company is part of the Hafren Scientific Group which trades under the names Chemostrat and Origin Analytical.

"We are very excited to participate in this joint venture with GTK to promote the development of battery mineral resources in Europe." said Stephen Jones, General Manager of X-ray Mineral Services. "Our highly capable analytical and consultancy team based in North Wales will be able to actively contribute to the future improvement in battery technology solutions".

GTK is a leader in geoscience research with strategic objectives that include tackling major global challenges, such as questions related to sustainable production, circular economy, clean water, low-carbon energy and climate change.

Hafren’s principal focus in oil and gas is to de-risk exploration and enable wells to be drilled with increased success, reducing the number of wells drilled to drain a reservoir and thereby limiting the environmental impact. Hafren are extending this philosophy to mining and processing by establishing new analytical workflows to optimise exploration assessment by reducing the number of boreholes drilled and by improving mineral processing by identifying product contamination and development protocols for recycling materials and water. Hafren strategy is ultimately to migrate its analytical capability and skills from oil and gas to support green technology such as battery resources and environmental impact sectors.

"Our geoscience group believes that high-quality data is at the heart of robust geological solutions and the Hafren Group has had considerable success in providing practical solutions for clients that do not compromise on quality," said Tim Pearce, Hafren Group MD.

The Hafren Group wishes to acknowledge the continued support of the Development Bank of Wales and the Welsh Government. This development will further strengthen geoscience service provision, an important export sector, in Wales.

For enquiries please call:

Dr Tim Pearce – Hafren Scientific Ltd – Managing Director – +44 (0)1938 555330

Stephen Jones – X-ray Mineral Services Ltd – General Manager – +44 (0)1492 535250

A new centre of excellence for geochemical and mineralogical techniques: the acquisition of X-ray Mineral Services by Hafren Scientific.

Published on 9 July 2019

Hafren Scientific Ltd is excited to announce the continuing expansion of its solutions portfolio following our successful acquisition of X-ray Mineral Services Ltd. Hafren believes that high-quality data is at the heart of robust geological solutions and is focused on providing practical, commercially sensible solutions for clients that do not compromise on quality. The acquisition of X-ray Mineral Services Ltd delivers world-class mineralogical expertise to the existing Hafren solutions suite, and our clients, old and new, can expect our innovative suite of high impact workflows and methods to continue to grow as a result. Take a look at the full detail of this latest Hafren success and contact us for news about how you can have high-quality data and knowledge without busting your budget in 2019 and onwards.

For more information please click here (opens in new window)

Sand from the Sahara

Published on 30 April 2019

We hope that you all enjoyed the warm Easter weekend!

Record-breaking temperatures in recent weeks were due to warm air being pushed up from low latitude, bringing with it a plume of dust arising from wind storms in the Sahara. The plume even reached Iceland! Managing Director Steve had to wash his (black) car due to seagull ‘emissions’, and was surprised later to find a covering of reddish-orange dust on the patch that he had recently cleaned.

Dust on car roof and filterThe science team was scrambled and we swabbed the area with a moistened filter paper to collect a sample on a flat surface for XRD as can be seen in the photograph.

Just 45 minutes later we had an analysis: peaks for quartz, feldspar, calcite, dolomite, illite and chlorite were clear as can be seen on the diffractogram below.

Diffractogram of Saharan Sand

We were impressed that we had good intensities and were able to quantify the material using Rietveld analysis. The results of this are shown in the table below: 

  Illite Chlorite Quartz Feldspars Calcite Dolomite
Mass % 14.9 6.2 41.3 24.7 9.2 3.7


There are some fantastic images of previous events that have been collected by the Earth observation satellites operated by NOAA for the USA Department of Commerce. Here is one showing dust streaming out across the equatorial Atlantic from June 2018.

Satellite image of Saharan Dust Plume
Image courtesy of NOAA


Digging around uncovered some interesting papers on dust emissions. It has been estimated that around 240 million tons of such dusts are deposited annually on and around the Atlantic Ocean, and the iron which is contained is a critical nutrient for marine algae in surface waters, the basis of the food chain, of course.

Iron is often difficult to pin down using XRD, since the iron oxides and hydroxides which give colour to geological materials is of poor crystallisation, or even amorphous. It is no surprise that iron-bearing phases are not detected in this diffuse and low-density XRD preparation.

All great XRD interest, but the rain from Storm Hannah washed it all away in a trice.

Investment Supported By Welsh Government

Published on 15 January 2019

The recent purchase of an ED-XRF spectrometer completes our analytical capability and enables X-ray Mineral Services to offer a full service in terms of XRF major and trace elements plus XRD analysis to a wide range of business sectors, without the requirement to outsource any services to other companies or universities.

This purchase has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund delivered through the Welsh Government SMARTCymru Innovation Voucher scheme.