A powerful x-ray technology is revolutionising a 500-year-old method for detecting and analysing unseen gold, with the world-first adoption by major Australian mining services company, Ausdrill.
Developed by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and brought to market by Chrysos Corporation, photon analyses is a faster, safer and more environmentally-friendly alternative to the conventional fire assay technique for gold analysis.
Fully automated, it dramatically reduces the turnaround time on assays from days to minutes, providing critical data to miners on gold grades in near real-time to support operational decisions.
After recognising the technology’s potential, CSIRO research program director Nick Cutmore said they partnered with investors to create new Australian company Chrysos Corporation in late 2016 to bring it to market.
“We developed photon assay recognising the market need for innovative data solutions to drive better and faster decision making across the minerals value chain,” Dr Cutmore said.
“The result is a technology export opportunity for Australia worth $1 billion in gold mining alone, and a competitive edge for Australia’s mining industry on the global stage.”
As the world’s second largest gold producer, Australian industry will benefit from the opportunity to capture more value from mined resources, as well as increased operational efficiencies, revenue and productivity.
The first photon assay system is now operational at Ausdrill’s MinAnalytical facility in Perth, with two more systems to be established in the Kalgoorlie goldfields in the coming months.
Ausdrill has longer term plans to take the innovation to Africa.
Chrysos CEO Dirk Treasure said that the company had a rapid growth plan and were well placed to disrupt the global gold analysis services market, offering near-real time, accurate analysis for the first time.
“With the first system now up and running at Ausdrill, we have successfully progressed the photon assay technology from concept through to a deployed product in just 16 months,” Mr Treasure said.
“Our lease model has been well received by the industry, with photon assay technology benefits being delivered without any increase in operating or capital costs.”
The photon assay system will analyse at least 50,000 gold samples a month, at a similar cost to conventional methods. It can be applied to a range of other minerals, including silver and copper.
CSIRO is a world leader in developing advanced sensor technologies for the global mining industry, other innovations include bulk ore sorting solutions for copper and gold ores.