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New analysers to unlock mineral value

Machine-mounted sensors, being developed through CSIRO Minerals Down Under Flagship, could help locate ore deposits, characterise the mining environment, and differentiate ore grades.

Scientists are working on a new range of materials characterisation analysers and techniques that could help unlock the value contained in Australia’s mineral deposits and improve processing performance, according to the October issue of Process.

Machine-mounted sensors, being developed through CSIRO Minerals Down Under Flagship, could help locate ore deposits, characterise the mining environment, and differentiate ore grades.

This will enable automated mining machines to respond ‘intelligently’ to the changing detail of the environment and offer real-time amendments to the mine plan.

Another prototype in development combines the best features of two existing materials characterisation techniques – x-ray diffraction and x-ray fluorescence – into a new slurry analyser.

The new prototype, dubbed XRDF for its dual origins, is capable of measuring both mineralogy and ultra-low elemental composition directly on a process-stream, without the need for labour-intensive, time-consuming and potentially error-prone sampling.

CSIRO scientist Dr James Tickner said the new prototype could offer a number of benefits over existing on-stream analysers.

“We’re not aware of any other system capable of doing accurate, on-stream mineralogy,” Dr Tickner said.

“The ability to detect elements at parts-per-billion levels in an on-stream system is unique.”

“We’re not aware of any other system capable of doing accurate, on-stream mineralogy,”

Dr Tickner saidDr Tickner and his team are also working on gamma-activation analysis – a new analysis method that may deliver all the benefits of neutron activation without the need for a nuclear reactor.

The method is expected to provide accurate, multi-element analysis of mineral samples without extensive sample preparation, and measure very low levels of more than 30 elements in samples weighing just a few hundred grams.

The method could significantly improve sampling accuracy.

Other stories in this issue of Process include:

Automated analysis creates commercial edge: An automated image analysis system that quantifies the mineralogy of ores is helping a mineral sands company better understand its deposits

Aluminium could hold the key to Ranger water purification: A range of materials characterisation techniques have helped Energy Resources Australia examine potential water treatment strategies for treating process water at the mine so that it can be safely disposed.

These and other stories can be found in the October issue of Process, which will be released on Thursday 8 October.

National Research Flagships

CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The 10 Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia.

Marina Johnson | EurekAlert!
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