Australian x-ray technology provides easier way to assay gold
CANBERRA – X-ray technology developed by Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), is revolutionizing a 500-year-old method for detecting and analysing unseen gold.
So-called photon gold analyses are a faster, safer and more environmentally friendly alternative to the conventional fire assay technique for gold analysis, CSIRO said on Thursday.
When fully automated, the technology will significantly reduce the turnaround time on assays – testing metal or ore to determine its ingredients and quality – from days to minutes, providing miners with critical data on gold grades to help them make rapid operational decisions.
CSIRO research program director Nick Cutmore said the federal science body recognized the technology’s potential and partnered with investors to create Chrysos Corporation in late 2016 to bring it to market.
“We developed photon assay, recognizing the market need for innovative data solutions to drive better and faster decision-making,” Cutmore said.
“The result is a technology export opportunity for Australia worth 1 billion Australian dollars (760 million U.S. dollars) in gold mining alone, and a competitive edge for Australia’s mining industry on the global stage.”
CSIRO says Australia, the world’s second largest gold producer, will benefit from the opportunity to capture more value from mined resources and increased operational efficiencies, revenue and productivity.
The first photon assay system is operating at Ausdrill’s MinAnalytical facility in Perth, with two more systems to be established in other West Australian goldfields at historic Kalgoorlie in 2018.
Ausdrill has longer term plans to take the innovation to Africa.
The photon assay system will analyse at least 50,000 gold samples a month, at a similar cost to conventional methods, and can be applied to a range of other minerals, including silver and copper.