CRC ORE will launch its research into new areas after forming a partnership with the CSIRO to create the Future Research Program.
This work will enhance 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 Future Research Program, launched in September 2021, will ensure that the work of CRC ORE and its research legacy continues to benefit the Australian mining industry.
The program will expand upon CRC ORE’s foundation research into the development of ore preconcentration technologies that can be deployed within the mine and ahead of the mineral processing plant.
Its 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 former general manager of research and innovation Paul Revell, who is now overseeing the program at CSIRO, said if successful, the research would increase the number of potential locations where preconcentration could be deployed, providing a larger overall impact for the minerals industry.
“Our aim is to extend the resource base that preconcentration can be applied to,” Revell said.
Revell said approximately three per cent of global direct energy consumption is used in the mining industry just in crushing rock, so if preconcentration technology could be applied more broadly across the resource base, it would have a wider global environmental and economic impact.
“We will explore opportunities to engage with the mining industry to build a self-sustaining and ongoing 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.”
Meanwhile, CSIRO has also unveiled a new $7 million research facility, the Geoscience Drill Core Research Laboratory.
Acting Director of CSIRO Mineral Resources, Dr Rob Hough, says the lab’s combination of advanced mining, equipment, technology and services (METS) instrumentation 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 ore bodies and uncover new underground resources,” 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.