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:: CSIRO Develops New Gold Detecting Technique to Assist Miners to Recover More Gold
The CSIRO says it has developed a new technique that detects gold in ore samples which could lead miners to recover more of the valuable resource.
Instead of using fire assays to measure the amount of gold in ore samples, powerful x-rays are used, giving a much more accurate reading.
The gamma-activation analysis works using high energy x-rays to scan mineral samples coming in and out of miners' processing plants, activating any gold.
The CSIRO believes the technique will save miners millions of dollars and is environmentally friendly compared to fire assays which require samples to be heated up to 1200 degrees celsius.
Project leader James Tickner says it has taken a decade to develop. "The existing approach for doing assay often involves some fairly complex reagents, they can involve lead for example, and can produce reasonable amounts of waste," he said. "One of the nice things about this technique it's completely chemistry free, it's completely non-destructive. "You just pop your sample in and a couple of minutes later you get your analysis without involving any chemicals or reagents."
Dr Tickner says the technique could help companies avoid much of the wastage that occurs during processing. "Last year, Australia produced something like $10 billion worth of gold and one of the problems they have is that because they can't monitor what's going on very accurately they're actually losing quite a lot of gold in the process," he said. "And, so we figured if we could monitor this, if we can help them measure what's going, potentially they can save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in actually being able to recover more of the gold that they're processing."
Dr Tickner says a processing plant typically only recovers between 65 to 85 per cent of the gold present in mined rock. He says millions of dollars of gold is going to waste and the new technique should help reduce the loss by about a third.
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