The good ole CSIRO has got mineral exploration’s back.

Our national science agency has revealed its newest research facility – the Geoscience Drill Core Research Laboratory at the Advanced Resources Research Centre in WA.

The $7 million lab hosts a suite of advanced mineral characterisation equipment including the Maia Mapper which is specialised for drill core analysis and research.

This equipment, along with the lab’s advanced Mining, Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) instrumentation, gives researchers and industry the opportunity to study drill core samples at multiple scales.

Maximising data from drill core samples

“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,” CSIRO Mineral Resources acting director Dr Rob 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.”

The tools to discover – and recover – resources

Getting more data out of a drill core will essentially provide information that drives key decisions for the discovery, mining, and processing of resources.

And more understanding of drill cores could help unlock critical mineral deposits around the country.

“Faster analysis of drill core by a range of cutting-edge techniques in this facility will speed up the development and testing of new ideas about how mineral systems develop, and help our leading researchers identify new clues to recognising undiscovered ore bodies,” Minerals Research Institute of WA CEO Nicole Roocke said.

The new facility will also provide a training ground for students, supporting development of the next generation of geoscientists to become innovators for the resources sector.

CRC ore
Pic: Ore sample characterisation using a novel fluorescence sensor. Source: CRC Ore.


CSIRO and CRC ORE launch research program

And it’s not the only news out of the CSIRO today.

The agency has teamed up with CRC ORE to launch a new Future Research Program which will expand upon CRC ORE’s research into the development of ore preconcentration technologies that can be deployed within the mine and ahead of the mineral processing plant.

The program will investigate ways to apply these principles further down the mining value chain, targeting smaller particle sizes and a wider range of ore types.

The idea is to boost the sustainability of the mining industry by reducing the energy and water consumption, generation of tailings and residues, the physical footprint of operations, and optimise the extraction of valuable minerals from resources.

More energy efficient crushing and grinding

CRC ORE’s former general manager of Research and Innovation Paul Revell – who is now overseeing the program at CSIRO – said the idea is to apply preconcentration technology more broadly across the resource base, for a wider global environmental and economic impact.

“The preconcentration technology developed through CRC ORE is currently best suited to structurally controlled, vein-hosted ores, however these only represent about one third of the resource base on average,” Revell said.

“A key ambition of the new program is therefore to initiate research into technologies that can preconcentrate disseminated ores.

“The opportunity is to develop more energy efficient crushing and grinding processes that are integrated with a preconcentration capability, to remove as much barren material from the ore as possible prior to subjecting the remaining ore to energy and water intensive fine grinding and concentration processes.

“We’re focusing on the largest energy consuming portion of the mining value chain.”