Tag Archives: CSIRO

Britannia Mining Sciences bolsters PhotonAssay lease order

Chrysos Corporation Limited says it has signed 10 new PhotonAssay™ lease agreements with existing customer Britannia Mining Solutions (BMS), bringing Chrysos’ total number of deployed or contractually-committed units to 48.

The combined initial five-year terms of the 10 new BMS lease agreements increases Chrysos’ Total Contract Value by A$149 million ($106 million) to A$705 million.

The first of BMS’ 12 PhotonAssay units is set to arrive in Montreal in the September quarter of 2023. In due course, BMS’ hub-and-spoke market expansion plan will deliver PhotonAssay technology to strategically important mining centres across the US, Canada, Central and South America, the Middle East and Europe.

Chrysos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Dirk Treasure, said: “These 10 new PhotonAssay leases signal a significant expansion of the existing relationship between Chrysos and Britannia Mining Solutions.

“We are particularly excited by BMS’ targeted approach to the roll-out of its PhotonAssay units. Its proposed regional hub model offers flexibility for large and small miners globally and complements the existing mine site and near mine site deployment strategies of Chrysos’ other customers.”

PhotonAssay, Chrysos says, delivers faster, safer and more accurate analysis of gold, silver and complementary elements by non-destructive measurement of larger and more representative samples in as little as two minutes, enabling rapid turnaround of critical operational information that drives optimisation throughout the mining value chain.

The system, originally developed at Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, provides an environmentally friendly, chemical-free, more sustainable replacement for traditional fire assay methods, significantly reducing CO2 emissions and hazardous waste.

Based in Canada, BMS’ parent company, Britannia Life Sciences, offers an integrated suite of services including analytical and microbiological testing, product development and quality assurance, plus safety and regulatory compliance.

Peter Shippen, CEO of Britannia Life Sciences, said: “Britannia is pleased to partner with Chrysos in revolutionising the global minerals analysis industry. Like Chrysos, our Mining Solutions team has an unwavering commitment to the creation of exceptional market value. The signing of these 10 new PhotonAssay lease agreements reflects the desire of both organisations to deliver unparalleled levels of customer service through faster, safer and more sustainable assaying technologies.”

OZ Minerals backs in-situ copper-gold recovery project

OZ Minerals has committed funds to support in-situ recovery (ISR) research at the Kapunda copper-gold ISR project in South Australia, putting the project owners closer to outlining the potential economic extraction of copper resources via ISR.

Kapunda is being steered by EnviroCopper Ltd, which, itself, has a joint venture in place with tenement holder Terramin to earn up to a 75% interest in the mineral rights over metals which may be recovered via ISR.

As part of the agreement with OZ Minerals, the company has committed to A$2.5 million ($1.75 million) over 18 months to support ISR research at the Kapunda project, according to Thor Mining, which as a 30% interest in EnviroCopper.

This funding will continue studies into the potential economic extraction of copper resources via ISR, with collaboration between the two companies kicking off this quarter.

EnviroCopper plans to develop a Mining Lease application for the Kapunda project, which, from 2018-2021, was subject to extensive research into solving existing knowledge gaps in the ISR industry. Funded by a Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program Grant from the Dept of Industry, Innovation and Science to the total value of A$6 million (cash and in-kind), EnviroCopper partnered with industry, CSIRO and University of Adelaide to carry out this work.

The key objective was to research the core values of environmental, social and economic impacts of ISR mining, a proven method of metal recovery that has been used for over 50 years and, with recent technological improvements, is being considered for the recovery of metals like gold and copper from mineral deposits that can not be mined by conventional methods.

Kapunda is a town with a rich mining history, growing from Australia’s first ever commercial copper mine in the 1840s. Even though the mine ceased production in the early 1900s, successive mining companies have looked at recovering the remaining copper over time, but, due to the proximity to town, conventional mining would not be possible. ISR mining is a possible solution to extracting this remaining copper in an environmentally- and community-sensitive manner.

FBICRC’s battery value chain plans accelerate with cathode precursor pilot plant launch

The Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC) has launched its flagship project – the Cathode Precursor Production Pilot Plant – in Western Australia.

Backed by 19 industry, research and government participants, the launch represents a major step in Australia’s journey to expand its presence throughout the global battery value chain, it said.

The first of its kind in Australia, the Cathode Precursor Production Pilot Plant will establish the technology and capabilities for Australia to design and build cathode precursor manufacturing facilities on a commercial and industrial scale.

The FBICRC explained: “Cathode precursors are precisely engineered materials, the highest cost component of a cell, and a crucial element of the battery value chain. The FBICRC’s report – ‘Future Charge – Building Australia’s Battery Industries’ – identified establishing an active materials manufacturing capability as an immediate priority for Australia to move up the global value chain, which could deliver A$1 billion ($672 million) to the economy and support 4,800 jobs by 2030.”

The Cathode Precursor Production Pilot Plant capitalises on Australia’s strong position in mining and its emerging battery metal refining industry. The facility will link with other FBICRC flagship projects across Australia, including the National Battery Testing Centre at the Queensland University of Technology, battery materials research at the University of Technology Sydney, electrolyte research at Deakin University and battery anode research at the University of Melbourne.

Shannon O’Rourke, CEO of the FBICRC, said: “The launch of the Cathode Precursor Production Pilot Plant is the culmination of several years of hard work, collaboration and integration by industry-leading partners and academic institutions, to progress the current and future needs of industry. We’re delighted to see this world-class facility up and running.

“The incoming government has committed to a National Battery Strategy which will help to seize local battery manufacturing opportunities. The Cathode Precursor Production Pilot Plant will be a key enabler to build an Australian manufacturing capability.”

The global battery market is expected to grow 9-10 times by 2030 and 40-fold by 2050. In a net-zero world, between now and 2050 over A$23 trillion will be spent on batteries, according to the FBICRC. Australia is positioned to capture more of this value given it has leading resources of all raw materials required to make high performance batteries – nickel, cobalt, manganese, graphite and lithium.

Cathode precursor materials are further processed to create cathodes in the battery cell. The performance, durability, safety, and operating envelope of a cell are impacted by the properties of precursor materials. Composition, shape, and surface properties must be controlled closely to ensure a cell performs reliably over many years.

Over 18-months, the plant will run a series of test campaigns through four fully integrated and automated P-CAM production units, provided by BASF. The four units will enable the Cathode Precursor Production Pilot Plant to run different compositions and ratios of chemistries simultaneously, or to run the same chemistries under four different conditions, changing variables such as temperature, pH or stirring rate. Produced P-CAM is then lithiated, calcined and electrochemically tested at the FBICRC-funded Electrochemical Testing Facility at the Queensland University of Technology.

BHP Nickel West has also provided equipment for the precursor facility, repurposed from its nickel sulphate pilot plant.

The Cathode Precursor Production Pilot Plant will not only deliver the technical capabilities required to build commercial scale P-CAM manufacturing facilities, it will help educate and upskill the next generation for a future battery industry, it said.

O’Rourke concluded: “Australia has the potential to develop into a competitive player in the international batteries industry. The Pilot Plant launch is a significant step in developing the on-shore capabilities and industry knowledge to create thousands of jobs and add billions of dollars to our economy.”

Jessica Farrell, Asset President, Nickel West, said: “The launch of the Cathode Precursor Pilot Plant is a vital step towards developing a future growth industry here in Western Australia. The launch of this plant, made possible through the repurposing of equipment from our nickel sulphate pilot plant, will allow the FBICRC and the State Government to explore further options for a downstream battery materials manufacturing industry. This is another exciting step for BHP as a major supplier of nickel, a commodity highly sought after by car and battery manufactures across the globe.”

Project participants include: BASF Australia Limited, BHP Nickel West, Queensland University of Technology, Curtin University, CSIRO, Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia, University of Technology Sydney, HEC Group Pty Ltd, JordProxa Pty Ltd, Ardea Resources Limited, IGO Limited, Blackstone Minerals Limited, Cobalt Blue Holdings Limited, Calix Limited, Alpha HPA Limited, Lycopodium Limited, ChemX Materials Limited, EV Metals Group PLC and Allkem Ltd (formerly Galaxy Resources Limited).

Metso Outotec and CSIRO to cooperate on SwirlFlow agitation tech for bauxite, alumina sector

Metso Outotec and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, have signed a global exclusive cooperation agreement on the delivery of SwirlFlow® agitation technology for the bauxite and alumina sector outside of China.

The combination of the companies’ leading expertise in their respective fields will allow the parties to create the strongest offering to the market for the use of SwirlFlow technology in the refinery precipitation tanks, Metso Outotec said.

“Sustainability is a top priority for Metso Outotec,” Dr Alessio Scarsella, Director of Light Metals at Metso Outotec, said. “In addition to our own investments to develop technology for sustainable alumina processing, we are pleased to be able to announce our cooperation with CSIRO. This will allow us to meet our customers’ growing demand such as lower capital installation, reduced spare parts costs and increase in precipitation tank availability.”

Andrew Jenkin, Research Program Director for Processing at CSIRO, added: “CSIRO’s leading technology in SwirlFlow agitation has been pioneered at a Tier One refinery precipitation tanks, leading to significantly reduced maintenance costs and improved operational time between descaling events.”

SwirlFlow, according to CSIRO, enhances the agitation process by mixing liquids and suspended solids to create a tornado-like vortex in a tank. The solution uses a motor, gearbox and a specially-designed radial impeller with a short shaft near the top of the tank. The system improves agitator reliability, resulting in reduced maintenance and shutdowns. And, due to higher and more uniform wall veolcities, the scale formation rate is also reduced.

Chrysos Corp adds Britannia Mining, Kibali to PhotonAssay customer base

Chrysos Corp continues to expand the reach of its PhotonAssay™ technology, with the company set to provide new units to Britannia Mining Solutions, Intertek and Barrick Gold’s Kibali gold mine.

This brings the total number of deployed or contractually committed units to 38, up from the previous total of 33 units, with the new lease contracts increasing Chrysos’ total contract value by A$108.6 million to A$559.8 million ($386.8 million).

Two five-year leases (with five-year renewal options) have been signed with new customer Canada-based Britannia Life Sciences to deploy PhotonAssay units across its newly formed North American subsidiary, Britannia Mining Solutions. The contract specifies the deployment of an initial two PhotonAssay units while providing the opportunity for further expansion of the agreement in the future.

Two other new lease contracts highlight Chrysos’ growing relationship with international testing, inspection and certification company, Intertek (ITK). The association, which started with the installation in 2021 of two PhotonAssay units at ITK’s Minerals Global Centre of Excellence in Perth, Western Australia, has since expanded to include another already-operating unit in Perth and the upcoming deployment of two new units on a five-year plus five-year-option contract basis for the ITK business in Ghana.

Chrysos says one recently commissioned PhotonAssay unit is now operating in Val d’Or, Canada, with MSALABS, and another unit is now fully operational in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, with ALS, it added.

Furthermore, Barrick Gold is expanding its adoption of PhotonAssay technology, with one of MSALABS’ already-committed PhotonAssay units to be deployed to Barrick’s Kibali gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Barrick, in partnership with MSALABS Ltd, installed a Chrysos PhotonAssay laboratory at the Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania last year.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Dirk Treasure, said: “This is an exciting time for our business as we continue to execute our expansion plans and focus on key international mining hubs.

“With increasing demand, a strong pipeline of blue-chip customers and our global market penetration continuing at pace, we feel the business is well positioned to meet its ongoing strategic and operational objectives.”

PhotonAssay, Chrysos says, delivers faster, safer and more accurate analysis of gold, silver and complementary elements by non-destructive measurement of larger and more representative samples in as little as two minutes, enabling rapid turnaround of critical operational information that drives optimisation throughout the mining value chain.

The system, originally developed at Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, provides an environmentally friendly, chemical-free, more sustainable replacement for traditional fire assay methods, significantly reducing CO2 emissions and hazardous waste.

Chrysos went public on the Australian Securities Exchange earlier this month following a successful, fully underwritten IPO, raising A$183.5 million at A$6.50 per share.

CSIRO unveils Geoscience Drill Core Research Laboratory in Perth

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has unveiled its latest state-of-the-art research facility, the Geoscience Drill Core Research Laboratory, at the Advanced Resources Research Centre in Perth, Australia.

The only facility of its kind in Australia, the A$7 million ($5.2 million) lab brings together a suite of advanced mineral characterisation equipment, including CSIRO’s unique Maia Mapper, specialised for drill core analysis and research.

Acting Director of CSIRO Mineral Resources, Dr Rob Hough, says the lab’s combination of advanced mining, equipment, technology and services instrumentation alongside CSIRO’s existing advanced characterisation facilities, gives researchers and industry the opportunity to study drill core samples at multiple scales.

“Exploration and mining companies commit large investment in drill core operations to be able to peer beneath the surface to understand orebodies and uncover new underground resources,” Dr Hough said.

“This unique facility is able to maximise data from drill core samples, enabling characterisation across scales; from big picture analyses on kilometres of drill core through to the elemental composition of rock on a microscale.”

Extracting more data from drill core analyses will help unlock Australian critical minerals by providing information that drives key decisions for the discovery, mining and processing of resources, CSIRO said.

“This facility will give researchers and their industry partners the tools to discover and recover the quality resources required for Australia to sustainably support a global energy transition,” Dr Hough said.

CSIRO’s Geoscience Drill Core Research Laboratory is a test bed platform that provides the infrastructure for the research community to work with industry to develop new workflows to enhance success and productivity in mineral exploration and mining, working in collaborative projects with industry.

CEO of the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia, Nicole Roocke, said the laboratory will support industry and researchers working together to develop a better understanding of Australia’s mineral endowment.

“Faster analysis of drill core by a range of cutting-edge techniques in this facility will speed up the development and testing of new ideas about how mineral systems develop, and help our leading researchers identify new clues to recognising undiscovered orebodies,” Roocke said.

The facility will also provide a new training ground for students, supporting development of the next generation of geoscientists to become innovators for the resources sector.

The Geoscience Drill Core Research Laboratory and Maia Mapper were funded by CSIRO and the Science and Industry Endowment Fund, with co-investment from the University of Western Australia and Curtin University.

CRC ORE, CSIRO look at broadening pre-concentration tech applications

CRC ORE and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, have formed a Future Research Program to, they say, take CRC ORE’s most promising fields of research into new areas to broaden the impact on the Australian mining industry and economy.

This work will boost the sustainability of the mining industry by helping reduce energy and water consumption, generation of tailings and residues, the physical footprint of operations, as well as optimise the extraction of valuable minerals from resources, the companies said.

The Future Research Program, launched in September 2021, will ensure the work of CRC ORE and its research continues to benefit the Australian mining industry.

The program will expand upon CRC ORE’s foundation research into the development of ore pre-concentration technologies that can be deployed within the mine and ahead of the mineral processing plant. The new research scope will investigate ways to apply these principles further down the mining value chain, targeting smaller particle sizes and a wider range of ore types.

Focus areas will include:

  • Incorporating the principles of Selective Breakage into the design and operation of comminution circuits;
  • Optimising ore feed to coarse and fine particle separators to enhance their performance;
  • Step change reductions in energy and water intensity; and
  • Developing new options for sustainable management of waste material

CRC ORE’s former General Manager of Research and Innovation, Paul Revell, who is now overseeing the program at CSIRO, said, if successful, the research will increase the number of potential locations where pre-concentration can be deployed, providing a larger overall impact for the minerals industry.

“Our aim is to extend the resource base that pre-concentration can be applied to,” Revell said. “The pre-concentration technology developed through CRC ORE is currently best suited to structurally controlled, vein-hosted ores, however these only represent about one third of the resource base on average.

“A key ambition of the new program is, therefore, to initiate research into technologies that can pre-concentrate disseminated ores. This group of ore types can be difficult to pre-concentrate with contemporary mineral processing technology, however they host a significant proportion of valuable base and precious metals.”

Revell said some 3% of global direct energy consumption is used in the mining industry just in crushing rock, so if pre-concentration technology could be applied more broadly across the resource base, it would have a wider global environmental and economic impact.

“The opportunity is to develop more energy efficient crushing and grinding processes that are integrated with a pre-concentration capability, to remove as much barren material from the ore as possible prior to subjecting the remaining ore to energy and water intensive fine grinding and concentration processes,” he said. “We’re focusing on the largest energy consuming portion of the mining value chain.”

Revell said it was important to note that the program is initially small scale and aims to undertake preliminary research into these areas that others could then build upon.

The program will be run for an initial three years with the possibility for extension through continuing industry sponsorship and collaboration.

“We will explore opportunities to engage with the mining industry to build a self-sustaining and on-going applied research portfolio in this field to advance promising developments to commercialisation,” Revell said.

“We are fortunate to have CSIRO as a research partner who are supportive, share this vision, and have a depth of research capability and excellent facilities.”

The program will also support CRC ORE’s mission to help build a highly skilled workforce for the nation amid an ongoing skills shortage in the resources sector. It will initially support a number of Research Higher Degree scholarships, which will be fully funded and placed across several selected Australian universities.

“One of CRC ORE’s key objectives has always been to build research capacity across Australia, which it did very successfully during its government-funded term,” Revell said. “By taking this new seed research and offering higher degree students a Masters degree or a PhD, it will build capacity for the minerals industry as well as getting the work done. It’s a great outcome.”

CSIRO Mineral Resources’ A/Director, Dr Rob Hough, said CSIRO is looking forward to commencing activities within the Future Research Program, initiated in partnership with CRC ORE.

“The R&D focus areas align well with our existing initiatives and plans, which have significant potential to positively impact the Australian minerals industry,” Dr Hough said.

Chrysos PhotonAssay lab up and running at Barrick’s Bulyanhulu

Barrick Gold, in partnership with MSALABS Ltd, has successfully installed a Chrysos PhotonAssay™ laboratory at its Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania – the first in Africa and in its global operations.

This new technique, Chrysos says, delivers faster, safer and more accurate analysis of gold, silver and complementary elements by non-destructive measurement of larger and more representative samples in as little as two minutes, enabling rapid turnaround of critical operational information that drives optimisation throughout the mining value chain.

The system, originally developed at Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, provides an environmentally friendly, chemical-free, more sustainable replacement for traditional fire assay methods, significantly reducing CO2 emissions and hazardous waste, according to Barrick.

Introducing the new system to media at the mine, Barrick President and Chief Executive Mark Bristow said it was part of the group’s continuing drive to harness technological innovation in the service of operational excellence, occupational safety and environmental care.

Bulyanhulu is in northwest Tanzania and is a narrow-vein gold mine containing gold, silver and copper mineralisation in sulphides.

The unit, which is also the company’s first deployment directly to a mine site, is part of a collaboration with MSALABS, a subsidiary of Capital Ltd, which will see at least seven Chrysos PhotonAssay units installed across the globe over the next 18 months, Chrysos says.

Dirk Treasure, Chrysos Corporation Chief Executive, said: “We are confident that PhotonAssay’s faster, safer and environmentally-friendly process not only aligns with Barrick’s focus on operational excellence through technology adoption, but also reflects and enhances its global reputation as a leader in sustainable mining and exploration.”

He added: “Our ambitious plan is to deploy 80 PhotonAssay units over the next five years. At that point, with each unit capable of processing up to 480,000 samples per annum, we will be helping our customers reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 18,000 t and decrease hazardous waste by approximately 12,000 t every year.”

The company anticipates further acceleration of demand over the coming years in a worldwide market with room for approximately 350 units.

Nexxis wins AMGC backing for Magneto robotic technology development

Perth, Western Australia-based robotics company Nexxis has been awarded a A$675,000 ($491,420) Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) Commercialisation Fund grant to assist its efforts commercialising its Magneto technology.

In August, Nexxis unveiled the world’s first fully design-approved EX-rated robotic camera inspection device – Magneto-EX. The spider-like device with its magnetic feet is the first developed system suitable for use in hazardous area inspections, according to Nexxis.

The A$675,000 grant recognises the value Nexxis is bringing to resources technology and critical minerals processing, one of the Federal Government’s six National Manufacturing Priorities, Nexxis says.

Nexxis Founder and Director, Jason De Silveira, said: “Receiving a share of the AMGC Commercialisation Fund will assist Nexxis create jobs, gain new market exposure and continue to drive innovation in the fast-emerging robotics and tech space. Our team is invested in research and development, engineering and manufacturing to develop transformational technologies across a range of sectors vital to Western Australia and Australia’s economic success.

“Robots such as our spider-like robotic crawler, Magneto, designed in our state-of-the-art headquarters in Perth, are revolutionising the energy and mining industries, putting Western Australian innovation on the global map.”

The funding will help accelerate the speed to commercialisation while allowing Nexxis to develop and scale the workforce required to be a global robotic technology company, the company says.

De Silveira said Nexxis had worked closely with partners NERA and CSIRO’s Data61 through the development of Magneto and were now positioning to take its latest technology to market.

“Our goal is to deliver leading-edge inspection, testing and measuring robots – among a range of other equipment – at fleet scale to Australia and the world across a range of industries,” he said.

“The AMGC Commercialisation Fund is helping us take those next steps.”

Glencore showcases automated longwall advancements at Oaky Creek

Glencore has highlighted the advances it has made in longwall automation at its Oaky Creek underground coal mine in Queensland, Australia, during a visit from the Federal Minister for Resources and Water, Keith Pitt.

The minister met production crews and was given a demonstration of the mine’s automated longwall, the company says.

Using ‘ExScan’ laser technology developed by CSIRO’s Centre for Advanced Technologies, Oaky Creek has become the first coal mine in Australia to fully automate its underground longwall operation, according to the company.

ExScan technology (picture courtesy of CSIRO) has a laser scanner and associated software capable of generating real time 3D maps of tunnels, walls and cavities underground where global positioning systems cannot penetrate, CSIRO says. These maps can be used for locating, steering and navigating equipment and vehicles.

At Oaky Creek, an above-ground control centre operates the longwall using 3D scans of the mining area recorded by ExScan sensors and transmitted to the surface.

The minister also saw how Glencore’s coal business is leading the way on land rehabilitation and emission reduction, the company says.

To date, Oaky Creek has achieved 132.8 ha of certified rehabilitation and, in the last year, cut emissions by up to 840,000 t of CO2-e by using methane emissions for electricity generation.

“That is roughly equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions avoided from 182,683 passenger vehicles driven for one year,” it says.

Ian Cribb, Chief Operating Officer for Glencore’s coal business in Australia, said: “Glencore has a world-class coal business in Australia and we welcomed the opportunity to show Minister Pitt some of the leading practices we have implemented, particularly around safety and gas management.”