A powerful x-ray technology is revolutionising a 500-year-old method for detecting and analysing unseen gold, with the world-first adoption by major Australian mining services company, Ausdrill.

[Music plays and an image appears of a machine in operation and the CSIRO logo appears]


[Image changes to show signs on the inside of an office “Chrysos Corporation” and “MinAnalytical” and then the camera zooms in on a computer on a table in the room]


James Tickner: PhotonAssay is a brand-new technology for measuring gold in mineral samples.


[Image changes to show James Tickner talking to the camera and then the image changes to show a machine in operation and text appears: James Tickner, Inventor and Chrysos co-founder]


It uses really high power, high energy x-rays to blast away the sample, activating any gold that might be present and then we can measure a signal that tells us very accurately the concentration of metal.


[Image changes to show James Tickner working on a computer and then the image changes to show James talking to the camera and then James working on the computer again]


The technology has come out of about 15 years’ worth of development work at the CSIRO and that work’s included both basic scientific research, commercialisation and then looking at how we can bring the technology to market.


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Dirk Treasure: The PhotonAssay technology can replace Gold Fire Assay in almost all of its installations.


[Image changes to show Dirk Treasure talking to the camera and text appears: Dirk Treasure, CEO, Chrysos Corporation]


We would like to see the PhotonAssay technology become the main gold analysis technique within Australia and within the gold mining industry around the world.


[Images move through of metal being taken out of the moulds, James working on a computer and a machine with sample pots inside]


Compared to traditional assay methods, PhotonAssay is extremely quick, very accurate and can measure very large samples without destroying them.


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James Tickner: Once we’ve completed all the research and development on PhotonAssay, then setting up a commercial company was the natural way for us to actually bring this technology to market.


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Dirk Treasure: Chrysos was formed as a collaboration between CSIRO and industry to bring the PhotonAssay technology to market.


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This first installation is a huge moment for the company.


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It allows us to showcase the technology to the industry for laboratories and for mining companies alike.


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Chrysos’ relationship with MinAnalytical was developed right back when the company was formed back in 2016.


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Ausdrill has been a significant partner to us who’s the owner of the MinAnalytical Laboratory.


[Image changes to show Andrew Broad talking to the camera and text appears: Andrew Broad, COO, Ausdrill Australia]


Andrew Broad: For Ausdrill this is an exciting opportunity to be involved in.


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It provides us a more stable platform for our earnings going forward which enables us to reinvest in the business and to look for how we can apply this technology to the market.


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Dirk Treasure: In the future we would like to see PhotonAssay deployed directly on to mine sites.


[Image changes to show Dirk talking to the camera and then the image to show a machine in operation and then the image changes back to show Dirk talking to the camera again]


I think that there is a significantly higher benefit to a mine site deployment than for a laboratory, particularly when you can make use of a near real time analysis to improve your process control.


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Andrew Broad: The really exciting thing for us is how Chrysos could change the industry.


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Already we are getting clients talk to us about how they’re going to change their process on site.


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Seeing where that goes is really exciting.


[Music plays and the CSIRO logo and text appears: CSIRO, Australia’s innovation catalyst]


Replacing fire with x-rays in new gold analysis system

Additional Resources

Developed by Australia's national science agency CSIRO and brought to market by Chrysos Corporation, photon gold analyses is a faster, safer and more environmentally-friendly alternative to the conventional fire assay technique for gold analysis.

Fully automated, it dramatically reduces the turnaround time on assays from days to minutes, providing critical data to miners on gold grades in near real-time to support operational decisions.

After recognising the technology’s potential, CSIRO research program director Nick Cutmore said they partnered with investors to create new Australian company Chrysos Corporation in late 2016 to bring it to market.

“We developed photon assay recognising the market need for innovative data solutions to drive better and faster decision making across the minerals value chain,” Dr Cutmore said.

“The result is a technology export opportunity for Australia worth $1 billion in gold mining alone, and a competitive edge for Australia’s mining industry on the global stage.”

As the world’s second largest gold producer, Australian industry will benefit from the opportunity to capture more value from mined resources, as well as increased operational efficiencies, revenue and productivity.

The first photon assay system is now operational at Ausdrill’s MinAnalytical facility in Perth, with two more systems to be established in the Kalgoorlie goldfields in the coming months.

Ausdrill has longer term plans to take the innovation to Africa.

Chrysos CEO Dirk Treasure said that the company had a rapid growth plan and were well placed to disrupt the global gold analysis services market, offering near-real time, accurate analysis for the first time.

“With the first system now up and running at Ausdrill, we have successfully progressed the photon assay technology from concept through to a deployed product in just 16 months,” Mr Treasure said.

“Our lease model has been well received by the industry, with photon assay technology benefits being delivered without any increase in operating or capital costs.”

The photon assay system will analyse at least 50,000 gold samples a month, at a similar cost to conventional methods. It can be applied to a range of other minerals, including silver and copper.

CSIRO is a world leader in developing advanced sensor technologies for the global mining industry, other innovations include bulk ore sorting solutions for copper and gold ores. 

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Additional information

About Chrysos Corporation

Chrysos Corporation aims to provide technology to deliver the highest quality, real-time analytical information and services to the global mining industry.

The company was formed in 2016 as a result of a partnership between RFC Ambrian and CSIRO.

The company's photon assay technology, developed over the past 15 years by the CSIRO, provides rapid, accurate, non-destructive and fully automated analysis of gold ore grade.

Chrysos brings together a team of scientists, engineers and experienced industry executives. They are developing technology platforms to provide non-destructive, fast and accurate analysis in the bureau laboratory, at the mine-site and in the field.

The company is based in Adelaide and is working with national and international partners to support mining and mineral processing operations around the world.

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Emily Lehmann

Communication Manager - Manufacturing

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