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Xstrata Technology on working with us:  Lindsay Clark from Xstrata Technology explains how working with CSIRO helped them improve their grinding technology.

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[Music plays and text appears: We asked CSIRO]

[Image changes to show a shot of the IsaMill™ and the camera pans over the different sections of the machine]

Lindsay Clark: The IsaMill™ is a grinding machine that is used to grind finer particles from around 200 micron down to around ten micron.

[Image changes to show Lindsay Clark, Xstrata Technology]

It was developed at Mount Isa, and we now have over a hundred IsaMills™ located throughout the world.

The media is what grinds the particles, and it’s rotating inside the mill, like a fluid bed.

[Image changes to show an example of particles being held in a hand and then changes to show a computer generated picture of the media rotating]

The main challenge was to... for us to develop a method of measuring the media level inside the IsaMill™.

[Image changes to show an aerial shot of the mill and then back to Lindsay]

CSIRO had done some work at one of our mines, McArthur River Mine, with their acoustic equipment, monitoring an analyser, and they came to us and they showed us some of the work that they’d done, so we asked CSIRO, “Can you actually use the analyser to measure the media inside the mill, to take the sound waves and measure the position of media inside the mill?”

[Image changes to show different pictures of the IsaMill™ in operation]

The acoustic equipment analyser sits on side of the IsaMill™, and it’s located at specific points alongside the mill, and there are nine analysers that measure the sound that’s coming from inside the mill, and because we can’t see it we needed a way of actually determining where it was. The ultimate plan for us to use this equipment is to reduce costs, reduce power consumption, to also reduce maintenance costs.

[Image changes to show different people operating the mill]

By having the media spread through the mill will reduce the wear of components, and will also improve availability of the mill, so will enable it to run for longer periods of time. But also longer term we intend to use it to help us to look at the wear inside the mill, advising us on when the mill should be shut down for maintenance.

We do know that it has potential to be used in the coal industry, monitoring cyclones and other things, so it does have potential in other areas. If we hadn’t have had this project working with CSIRO then we would still be putting our ear to the side of the mill at different locations and trying to listen to the sound, which obviously is nowhere near as good as actually having equipment measuring it, and you can actually monitor the level of sounds.

[Image changes back to an aerial shot of the mill and then back to Lindsay]

CSIRO worked really well with us. They’re a very talented team. They’re a very important company for Australia. We’re also working with them on a number of other projects as well, so we have a really good relationship with them, and I think it’s very critical for them to be involved in helping Australian industry develop.

[Music plays, CSIRO logo and text appears: Big ideas start here www.csiro.au

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Working together for mineral resource solutions

We are one of the largest minerals research groups in the world, with more than 40 years experience in delivering innovation and solutions across the mineral resources value chain. Our ability to understand and work through individual and industry challenges has been developed through collaboration with several hundred companies each year. We work with large and small mining, exploration, processing and manufacturing companies in Australia and internationally as well as other industry stakeholders, local, state and national governments, universities and other research centres.

We work with our partners on research that aims to:

  • uncover resource potential through technology and expertise in fast and accurate mineral characterisation and resource discovery and exploration
  • mine more effectively through innovation in sensors, automation, cutting and drilling technologies and mining systems
  • optimise process performance through development of unit processes and systems that maintain or improve output while reducing energy and  water use, operating costs and equipment downtime
  • foster more sustainable operations through practical tools, knowledge and innovation in the areas of decision-making, environmental management, social responsibility and social licence to operate.

Our Advanced Characterisation Facility, based at the Australian Resources and Research Centre in Perth and with nodes in our Melbourne laboratories, houses a diverse array of state-of-the-art equipment used to analyse and characterise materials specific to the minerals and resource sector. We offer industry access to specialised equipment, expertise and customised service.

Our successes through partnerships

Many of our key research technologies and innovations have come about through collaborations with industry partners. Our technologies have assisted a diverse range of companies to achieve positive triple bottom line benefits.

Some of our successful partners

  • Advanced sensor for large-scale ore sorting: Newcrest Mining
    Developed in partnership with Newcrest Mining, our cost-effective and sustainable sensor system for large-scale ore sorting, using a magnetic resonance technique to rapidly determine ore grade, is a world first. Using this technology to sort high-grade ore  from the waste before crushing could improve mine efficiency by at least 20 per cent, decrease an operation's annual carbon dioxide emissions  by at least 33 000 tonnes and reduce water consumption by 15 per cent.
  • Laterite processing: Direct Nickel
    A new, environmentally friendly process stands to make nickel laterite economic to mine, unlocking 70 per cent of the world's nickel supply. We are working with Direct Nickel on a solution to nickel laterite processing at a time when world supply from other forms of nickel reserves, such as sulphides, are being depleted. The process stands to provide a significant boost to the Australian economy, as we have abundant laterite reserves and demand for nickel is increasing.

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