Curtin opens doors to metals research lab

Curtin University has opened a research and teaching hub at the Western Australian School of Mines in Kalgoorlie to accelerate understanding of sustainable solutions for the resources sector.

The Kalgoorlie Metals Research Laboratory will facilitate experiments using high-temperature furnace equipment to test industrial processes related to renewable energy and green hydrogen in metal extraction

The lab was partially funded by a $600,000 grant from Curtin University.

Curtin’s head of the School of Mines Michael Hitch said it was vital to develop student’s understanding of carbon-neutral technologies.

“The Kalgoorlie Metals Research Laboratory will provide undergraduate students with practical education in carbon-neutral metal production paths, which is particularly important given they are the generation that will help decarbonise the mining industry in the most challenging area of pyrometallurgy,” Hitch said.

John Clout has been appointed as the professor of practice in pyrometallurgy at the lab and Curtin’s School of Mines director Sabina Shugg said Clout could inspire students to serve the industry well.

“Highly respected in the field of pyrometallurgy, professor Clout will bring real-world experience to the laboratory’s teaching and research, ensuring we contribute to a sustainable future for the WA resources industry,” Shugg said.

Clout has worked in gold, iron ore and nickel for more than four decades, providing him with an understanding of how these technologies are developed.

He said it was an exciting prospect for both himself and the students.

“The Kalgoorlie Metals Research Laboratory will aim to develop end-to-end production paths that set new standards for efficiency, value and carbon-neutral management, which will ultimately support a cleaner future,” Clout said.

“I am especially excited to be working with the future leaders of the resources sector to find the most efficient renewable energy sources and processes for pyrometallurgy.

“There is significant potential for industry to be extracting and producing critical metals right here in WA, especially in the Goldfields where there is significant scope for renewal energy production, untapped critical mineral resources, an existing infrastructure network and workforce.”

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