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22 November 2022 News Release

CSIRO's Dr Nick Cutmore, along with Dr James Tickner and Mr Dirk Treasure from spin-out company, Chrysos Corporation, has been recognised for the successful commercialisation of PhotonAssay™ technology, as recipients of the Prime Minister's 2022 Prize for Innovation.

The PhotonAssay™ technology developed by Australia's national science agency, CSIRO, delivers faster, safer, more accurate and environmentally friendly analysis of gold for the minerals industry.

Formed in 2016 to commercialise the PhotonAssay™ technology, Chrysos Corporation has significantly grown their installations around the world.

PhotonAssay™ is fast becoming the preferred technology for gold analysis across the globe due to its speed and reduced environmental impact when contrasted to the incumbent process, fire assay. With fewer carbon dioxide emissions and less hazardous waste, PhotonAssay™ offers improved customer benefits in comparison to fire assay which is much slower, more hazardous, uses toxic chemicals and requires sample fusion at temperatures up to 1200 degrees centigrade.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall congratulated the team, describing Chrysos as a shining example of CSIRO's innovation catalyst strategy in action.

"When scientists decide to create a business from scratch, you know it's going to be pretty extraordinary," said Dr Marshall.

"Australian deep-tech innovation companies like Chrysos give me hope for the nation's wider opportunity to add more value to our mineral commodities right here at home before we export them to the world."

Dr Nick Cutmore said that he was extremely honoured to receive the Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation, and credited CSIRO for providing an environment where such initiatives were possible.

"I'm proud that CSIRO's innovative technology is now used around the world including Australia, Africa and North America – that's real global impact," Dr Cutmore said.

"Being fully automated, PhotonAssay™ can deliver results to customers in a little as two minutes, unlike the days that could be required for traditional methods."

CSIRO's Executive Director of Growth, Mr Jonathan Law who nominated the PhotonAssay™ team for the prestigious award, also congratulated the team on its win.

"Through partnerships with global laboratory companies and major miners, Chrysos is continuing to build Australia's reputation of a world-leading exporter of Mining Equipment and Technology Services (METS) built on the very best of Australian science," Mr Law said.

"Chrysos has created more than 70 high-value jobs and delivers a safer and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional assay methods."


Chrysos' Photon Assay delivers fast and highly accurate gold analysis
A Chrysos Corporation sample jar ready for its PhotonAssayTM analysis ©  ©copyright Tony McDonough
Dr James Tickner, Dr Dirk Treasure and Dr Nick Cutmore


[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.


[Image changes to show a furnace in operation and then the camera zooms in on molten metal being poured into moulds next to the furnace]


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.


[Image changes to show James talking to the camera and the camera zooms in on James’ face]


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.


[Image changes to show Dirk talking to the camera]


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


[Image changes to show a close-up of a machine in operation]


This first installation is a huge moment for the company.


[Image changes to show a screen displaying diagrams and then the image changes to show sample pots stacked up]


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


[Image changes to show Dirk talking to the camera and the camera zooms in on Dirk as he talks]


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


[Image changes to show a cupboard with computer equipment inside and the camera pans up the cupboard to show a touch screen inset in the top and a display screen above]


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.


[Image changes to show a view of a machine in operation on a screen]


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.


[Image changes to show the Chrysos Corporation sign on the top of a doorway and then the camera zooms downwards to show two males at work inside the room]


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.


[Image changes to show Andrew talking to the camera]


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


[Image changes to show a sample pot being moved along in a machine]


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


[Image changes to show Andrew talking to the camera]


Seeing where that goes is really exciting.


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


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