CSIRO Brings Critical Minerals Analysis Tool to New $ 7 Million Perth Facility


Australian science agency launched a new $ 7 million drill core research lab in Perth to analyze underground samples for essential minerals needed for Australia’s energy transition.

Located within the Advanced Resources Research Center in Perth, the new geoscience drill core research laboratory will house a suite of mineral characterization equipment, including CSIRO’s first mineral imaging tool suitable for samples from drill core.

The geoscience drill core research laboratory. Image: CSIRO

In 2016, scientists at CSIRO created the world’s first high-performance analysis tool that uses X-ray fluorescence imaging to “light up” trace elements in minerals, known as Maia Mapper.

The tool has been adapted for drill core samples and will be on samples ranging from several kilometers in length to the composition of tiny rocks, analyzing them for traces of minerals of interest to exploration companies and mineral processing.

The technology will be made available to researchers and industry at the Perth Resource Research Center, which already contains state-of-the-art instrumentation for mining, equipment, technology and services (METS).

The analytical capability of drill core should aid exploration of critical minerals and decisions regarding their extraction and processing.

“Exploration and mining companies are making significant investments in drilling operations to be able to scan below the surface to understand ore deposits and discover new underground resources,” said the acting director of CSIRO Mineral Resources, Dr Rob Hough.

“This unique facility is able to maximize data from drill core samples, allowing characterization at all scales; from global analyzes over kilometers of drill core down to the elemental composition of the rock on a microscopic scale.

“This facility will give researchers and their industrial partners the tools to discover and recover the quality resources needed by Australia to sustainably support a global energy transition,” said Dr Hough.

CSIRO said it expects the new facility to house collaborative projects between industry and researchers, and that it will also be used for scientific training.

The Geoscience Drill Core Research Laboratory and Maia Mapper were funded by CSIRO and the National Science and Industry Endowment Fund, the long-standing science fund that was rejuvenated in 2009 with the CSIRO wifi product.

The University of Western Australia and Curtin University also co-invested in the new lab.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley by email.

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