CSIRO is teaming up with Chrysos Corporation to roll out its powerful PhotonAssay X-ray gold detection technology that has the potential to place Australia as a world leader in analytical services for the precious metal.
Analytical services are an integral part of the mining value chain, from exploring for new deposits through to running profitable extraction operations.
CSIRO’s lead inventor of the technology and Chrysos Chief Technology Officer, Dr James Tickner, said this novel approach provides real-time information for mine operators, allowing them to more efficiently plan, run and optimise their mining and mineral processing operations.
“Existing analysis methods can take a day or more to return a result, which can be a real problem if miners needs information right now to manage their operations,” Dr Tickner said.
“Our patented PhotonAssay will be a game changer, capable of delivering accurate results in just a few minutes without generating the toxic waste products which have been problematic in other assay systems.”
The PhotonAssay method utilises high powered X-rays to bombard rock samples and activate atoms of gold and other metals. Subsequently, a highly sensitive detector picks up unique signatures from these elements to determine their concentrations.
Dr Tickner said rapid analytical technology could unlock substantial productivity gains in gold mining and production, especially at a time when the mining industry is facing declining ore grades.
“We have focussed on improving the accuracy, sensitivity and simplicity of the technology to make it useful for low-grade Australian operations,” he said.
Chrysos’ Chairman, Mr Anthony McLellan said the PhotonAssay technology holds the potential to revolutionise the industry by giving clients accurate information in real time and at a lower cost than existing methods.
“By giving our clients reliable and fast information we are increasing their potential to maximise their profits and increase productivity, even on lower quality ores,” Mr McLellan said.
“This is an Australian innovation that has the potential to be a global leader in gold analysis.”
In addition to gold, the technology can also be applied to a wide range of other metals.
Chrysos, which will be headquartered in Adelaide, said it will deliver its first high-throughput analytical unit in late 2017 before rolling out smaller systems for mine-site operations the following year.
The development and validation of this gold technology has been supported by industry partners including Newcrest Mining and Gannet Holdings, while BHP Billiton and the South Australian Government have provided funding to support the commercialisation.
Australia’s annual gold production is stinted to be worth about $15 billion. Worldwide expenditure on gold analysis is estimated to be worth around $1 billion annually.