CSIRO brings critical minerals analysis tool to new $7m Perth facility

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Australia’s science agency has launched a new $7 million drill core research lab in Perth to analyse underground samples in the search for the critical minerals needed to power Australia’s energy transition.

Located within the Advanced Resources Research Centre in Perth, the new Geoscience Drill Core Research Laboratory will house a suite of mineral characterisation equipment, including CSIROs’ world-first mineral imaging tool adapted for drill core samples.

The Geoscience Drill Core Research Laboratory. Image: CSIRO

In 2016, CSIRO scientists built the word’s first world’s first high performance analysis tool that uses micro-X-ray fluorescence imaging to ‘illuminate’ trace elements of minerals, known as the Maia Mapper.

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

The technology will be available to researchers and industry at the Perth resources research centre, which already contains advanced Mining, Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) instrumentation.

The drill core analysis capability is expected to help in exploration for critical minerals and decisions regarding their mining and processing.

“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,” said CSIRO acting director of mineral resources Dr Rob Hough.

“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.”

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

CSIRO said it expects the new facility to house collaborative projects between industry and researchers, and 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 running science fund which was rejuvenated in 2009 with proceeds from CSIRO’s wifi .

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

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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