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MEI Online: Hydrometallurgy: Latest News: May 6th 2004


:: New Research Facility to Streamline Australia’s Minerals Industry

WA State Development Minister Clive Brown will open a new research facility designed to test innovative processes for the minerals industry on 11 May.

The Parker Centre’s hydrometallurgy research pilot plant at Murdoch University will bridge the gap between the laboratory bench and the commercial-scale industrial processing plant. The pilot plant is a small-scale model of a full-size plant, and will be used to scale-up new processes and test changes to existing processes without the cost and risk of experimenting on the full scale.

The Parker Centre, based in Perth, is the world’s largest publicly-funded hydrometallurgy research organisation. The Centre undertakes research on improving hydrometallurgy processes for extracting metals and metallic compounds such as alumina, gold and nickel from minerals using solutions. Its research has significantly contributed to improving the efficiency and sustainability of Australia’s minerals processing sector, a key export industry. Parker Centre Deputy CEO, Dr Jim Avraamides, says the pilot plant was funded by a grant from the State Government. Murdoch University provided the land for the building which houses the plant.

The State Government, through the WA Department of Industry and Resources, is also one of the partners in the Centre. The pilot plant can be configured for a range of applications to assist Australia’s gold and nickel industries in particular.

The first users of the new facility will be a group of the Parker Centre’s clients from the gold industry. "The Centre is developing an alternative leaching process to replace cyanide in gold processing," says Dr Avraamides. "This process uses thiosulfate to extract the gold. We will use the pilot plant to test the economic and technical viability of the thiosulfate process. The pilot plant will also be useful for training. It will allow university students to gain hands-on experience in a quasi-industrial environment."



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