Securing the future for Australia’s minerals industry

By February 1st, 2010

Researchers are hard at work developing a raft of technologies to help Australia's minerals industry remain globally competitive.

The industry is under pressure; supplies of high-grade ores are depleting, ores are becoming harder to access and there is increasing competition from overseas suppliers.

What the industry needs is a competitive edge – an edge CSIRO’s Minerals Down Under Flagship is determined to deliver.

The February issue of Process outlines a number of technologies currently being developed through CSIRO’s Flagship program that aim to provide a competitive edge to iron ore, gold, nickel and alumina producers.

For iron ore producers, these technologies include a process to halve the phosphorus content of high-phosphorus iron ores; processes to remove or mitigate the effects of other impurities such as kaolinite and alumina; and a new database that provides a clear picture of the nation’s main iron ore reserves, their tonnage and chemical features.

The February issue of Process outlines a number of technologies currently being developed through CSIRO’s Flagship program.

New technologies for gold producers include a thiosulfate leaching and recovery system, an in situ leaching system for oxide gold deposits, and a quartz-purification process designed to transform waste tailings from alluvial gold mines into a high value feedstock.

Nickel producers will benefit from a new direct solvent extraction process for recovering nickel and cobalt, and research into jarosite build up in autoclaves during high-pressure acid leaching.

Alumina producers are set to benefit from a new wet oxidation facility that is being used to help unravel some of the fundamental chemistry involved in oxidising complex organic mixtures in the Bayer process. The facility – a key research tool for the Light Metals Flagship and the Parker CRC for Integrated Hydrometallurgy Solutions – will also be available as a problem-solving tool for industry clients.

These and other stories can be found in the February issue of Process, which will be released on Wednesday 3 February.

CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The 10 Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community.

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