We have developed automated mineral analysis technology for deployment onsite, at the drill site. It delivers fast chemistry and mineral characterisation results, saving exploration companies significant time and costs.

The challenge

High cost, time consuming analysis of exploration drill cores

Costs associated with setting up and moving drill equipment, plus the time required to send drill-hole samples off to a lab for manual characterisation and analysis, makes exploration surveillance for new mineable resources a time consuming and high cost endeavour.

Lab-at-Rig set up at a drill site.

An onsite lab dramatically reduce time and costs. ⒸREFLEX

In an industry where time is money, rapid reliable results can deliver significant cost savings, faster decision making and increased productivity.

Taking the lab into the field could minimise the turnaround on results and allow mining or exploration companies to have real time information about the mineralogy and chemistry of the drill-hole samples enabling efficient planning of what to do next i.e. drill deeper, drill further holes, try elsewhere or stop.

Our response

Fast, in-field analysis

In partnership with Imdex and Olympus Scientific Solutions Americas, under the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DET CRC), we have developed Lab-at-Rig® technology which can deliver on the spot results from drill holes samples in a one hour cycle.

After observing diamond drilling operation and noticing the fluid carrying the drill cuttings to the surface, researchers focused on developing technology to use cuttings separated from that fluid for real-time sample analysis.

Lab-at-Rig® features automated analysis of mineralogy and geochemistry of drill-hole cuttings direct from the drill site, along with the relevant sampling methods and quality control.

The Lab-at-Rig® prototype system is fitted to a diamond drill rig and a solid recovery unit and includes:

  • a sample preparation unit that collects solids from drill cuttings and dries them
  • X-ray fluorescence and X-ray diffraction sensors to provide chemistry and mineralogy of the sample respectively, and
  • the ability to upload data to a cloud-based storage platform where it can be analysed and provided back to the explorer.

The results

Commercialisation partners for deployment

Lab-at-Rig® technology is currently being commercialised by REFLEX, a business in the ASX-listed Imdex Group of Companies.

In addition, CSIRO, Imdex, Olympus, University of Adelaide and Curtin University are now working on the $11M collaborative DET CRC Lab-at-Rig Futures Project which will build the next generation system to cover: new sensor technologies, improved data analysis and processing for decision making, and development of the system for new applications and drilling platforms.

The Lab-at-Rig® R&D achievement is one of many successful outcomes from our engagement in the CRC program. Over the years, we have participated in 149 of a total of around 200 CRCs and are currently active in 15 CRCs.

Group of twelve researchers making up the lab-at-rig project team

Lab-at-Rig® research team

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