Resourceful magazine brings you the latest in innovation, technology and research from across the minerals value chain, from mineral exploration to mining and metal production.
Resourceful, Issue 23, Australia's mineral potential
Australia's mineral potential: new directions, innovative technology and diverse opportunities.
Pointing the way. Using new indicator minerals in the nickel hunt
Finding the next Kambalda, home of Australia’s sulfide nickel mining industry, will be a lot harder than the original discovery, but to aid the process a new indicator mineral exploration technique is emerging from CSIRO research. TIM TREADGOLD reports
Finding hidden water in ancient palaeovalleys
Researchers have teamed up to uncover an ancient buried water source under the the dry Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands in South Australia. AMY EDWARDS reports
Targeting gold undercover with geochemistry
A lack of exposure and poor understanding of the land has historically inhibited focused gold exploration in the Northern Territory. CSIRO researchers have developed the go-to geochemical vector tool to help exploration companies seeking gold undercover in the Territory’s vast Tanami region. LOUISE POBJOY writes
Smart science for a sustainable future on show
This year's Resources Innovation Showcase, held on 15 February in Fremantle, Western Australia, demonstrated CSIRO’s advances in science expertise, technology and innovation in mineral exploration for industry partners
Resourceful, Issue 22, Future innovations for new jobs and industries
Future innovations for new jobs and industries in the resources sector.
Harnessing science for an innovation-led recovery
There's no doubt that 2020 has dealt us some tremendous challenges – from prolonged drought, to catastrophic bushfires, COVID-19 and now a pandemic-induced recession. But we have the opportunity to harness science for an innovation-led recovery.
Extracting possibilities from innovation
Post-COVID-19 recovery presents a unique opportunity for science-led innovation for a resilient economy. CSIRO Mineral Resources Director, Jonathan Law, believes leveraging our mineral resource wealth is a critical part of this transition.
The new gold standard in assays
Chrysos™ PhotonAssay, a fast, accurate and environmentally friendly technology to detect and analyse gold samples, is a boon to the global mining industry. Located in South Australia, Chrysos is also creating a boon in new job opportunities in the state.
Value adding to tech metals
Australia has the ingredients to be a leader in the world’s energy transition, but it can also be compared to a well-stocked kitchen in need of a chef with a recipe to combine the raw materials in a practical and profitable way.
CO2 technologies set to deliver low emissions for mining operations
New low emission technologies for powerplants could be a game changer for mining operations. Supercritical Transformational Electric Power (STEP) is a step closer to giving remote operations the power they need
Rare earths and critical minerals provide significant opportunities for Australia
Until recently, critical minerals and rare earths were relatively unknown terms outside of niche mining quarters. Now at the close of 2020, barely a week goes by without reference to these terms and their growing importance to advanced and renewable technologies. Outgoing Head of the Critical Minerals Facilitation Office JESS ROBINSON shares
Known unknowns: the devil in the details of energy metals demand
It's become clear that the global transition to clean energy will need a lot of metal. For example, annual demand for battery metals – like lithium and cobalt – is expected to increase by over 450 per cent by 2050.
How social licence is driving innovation in the mining industry
Social licence to operate – where the wider community accepts that an organisation’s contribution to society is legitimate and necessary – has had a seismic shift in importance in recent decades. FRAN MOLLOY writes
The power of harnessing real social data
Social research company Voconiq, a spin-out from CSIRO’s foundational social science, is helping mining companies manage community relationships with real data informing their social licence to operate.
Making sense of big data
The acquisition of large legacy data presents a golden opportunity for big data business in mineral exploration. Variable formats, style and quality, and making sense of the wealth of data requires specialist skill and expertise. With matched funding from the CSIRO Kick-Start program, Australian start-ups like SensOre can access CSIRO experts to accelerate innovation.
Resourceful, Issue 21: Resources for global technology
Positioning Australia's mineral resources to drive new technologies, innovation and global electrification
Australia's advantage in global technology
Leaders comment: The importance of Australia’s minerals sector as an ‘essential industry’ for our country has never been more visible than it is right now during the COVID-19 crisis.
Closing the loop on energy metals
Technology is hungry for energy metals and minerals, many of which are becoming increasingly scarce. Efforts to recycle these critical materials from e-waste and batteries have so far had disappointing results. CSIRO is working on solutions
How can Australian industries meet their emission targets ?
Collaboration is a key strategy industries need to harness in order to meet their emissions targets, and CSIRO can help
What is a critical metal anyway?
Fashionable as it might be to talk about critical metals in a world migrating towards a clean-energy future it is equally important to ask why some metals are considered critical and others not.
Reducing the carbon intensity of the iron making value chain
Increased scrutiny over greenhouse gas emissions in iron and steel production have prompted all parties involved in its value chain to invest significant resources into reducing their carbon footprint. ROBERT HOBSON reports
Hydrogen's key role in decarbonising the mining industry
Hydrogen has risen to dizzy heights in recent years as a promising zero-carbon fuel across the world, and although many hydrogen energy systems are in the demonstration phase, the mining sector is set to be an early adopter. FRAN MOLLOY reports
Researchers target efficiency and industry footprint
Striving to increase efficiency – doing more with less by working smarter to make discoveries while reducing its footprint and emissions – is how the Australian minerals exploration industry will thrive. TONY HESELEV reports
Resourceful, Issue 20: Decoding digital in mining
Digital innovations to make mining safer, more sustainable and productive
Decoding a digital future
The potential for digital disruption of the exploration and mining industry has been widely recognised and discussed, but as yet, the opportunities are not yet being widely realised
The future of digital
Digital transformation in the mining industry is not simply about collecting and analysing data, it is about the application of artificial intelligence to provide feedback loops to the sensors, and machines operating on mine sites.
Margaux Le Vaillant and BHP
CSIRO's SWITCH program has given a research scientist from halfway across the globe the opportunity to get her hands – figuratively – dirty while immersing herself in prospectivity analysis at mining company BHP for three months
Robots boldly go underground to fly the flag
CSIRO robots can detect and locate objects and navigate their way through previously unknown underground areas.
Scratching the surface at Subsurface 20
CSIRO Deep Earth Imaging Future Science Platform recently hosted its inaugural subsurface imaging conference on 12–13 February at Optus Stadium in Perth.
Drones and apps - Digital tools in mining
Researchers and prospectors looking for ore bodies in Australia have to cover vast land areas in limited time and often do so in extreme temperatures and difficult terrain. Digital technology may hold the key to overcoming these challenges and improving data collection.
Unleashing the potential of digital twins
The latest digital-twin technology uses virtual models of physical processes and objects to make mining safer, more sustainable and more productive. JANE NICHOLLS reports
Humans and holograms
CSIRO's Data61 Immersive Environments Lab in Canberra are working with new technologies, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 mixed-reality headset, to create more natural ways for humans to interact with holograms.
Open for business at the Resources Innovation Showcase
Feedback and photos for the inaugural Resources Innovation Showcase held in Perth, in February 2020.
Science collaboration to support regional Australia and the mining industry
The federal government’s announcement of a new Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) provides a unique collaborative research opportunity to support regional communities facing mine closures.
Resourceful Issue 19: Safer mines
Maximising value from resources in a safer and more environmentally‑responsible way
Technology knows no boundaries
Solutions developed to tackle mine safety and environmental performance will have a greater impact beyond the industry. JONATHAN LAW writes
Towards zero harm
Australia's national science agency is working on developing technologies to improve mine safety and help the industry meet its commitment to achieving Zero Harm. CSIRO research director for sustainable mining technologies, HUA GUO, writes
Mapping the underground
New real-time underground 3D mapping technology is being trialled by Glencore, as well as five other mining companies. It can be used to locate, steer and navigate equipment and vehicles in volatile, methane-rich underground environments.
Longwall mining goes international
Since CSIRO launched its LASC longwall automation system commercially about eight years ago, four mines in the US and about 30 in China have taken it up, in addition to at least 20 of Australia's 30 underground coal mines.
Capturing the methane
A suite of three technologies that work to mitigate methane emissions, by either destroying the gas or capturing it, is gaining the attention of miners seeking to reduce their emissions.
A new Australian-designed and distributed acoustic sensing system – AURA IQ – is changing the way mines manage conveyor belt maintenance. It is much safer, more accurate and more efficient than conventional monitoring methods, and could save mining companies millions of dollars. LOUISE POBJOY reports
Seeing is believing
Building a picture of components in urban dust in communities near ports, mines and rail corridors is providing valuable data to government and industry so that they can better inform communities about air pollution. It’s one of many initiatives that award-winning image analysis research is driving across the value chain.
The groundwater explorer
An open-access, central repository for the nation's groundwater data, is fast becoming a valuable tool for minerals exploration, covering 900,000 bore locations and logs, as well as interactive 3D hydrogeology models.
Born from mining
Innovation born from the mining industry is leading to exciting advances further afield, ranging from explosives detection to aerospace manufacturing and better community engagement.
Downloadable Resourceful [pdf · 4.5mb]
Download a copy of resourceful issue 19. In this edition, we take a look a look at safer mining and how to get the most out of our resources in a more environmentally-responsible way.
Resourceful Issue 18: Orebody knowledge
In-depth and accurate orebody knowledge is driving everything from exploration success to low-waste, precision mining.
Changing the face of mining
A ‘social licence’ continues to be the top business risk for the mining and metals industry today. While it is promising to see the industry start to embrace new ways to more effectively engage communities, one could argue that the inherent problem still remains: the way we mine. JONATHAN LAW writes
Precisely does it
If there's an endgame in mining technology it could be the vision of low footprint, precision mining. Making this a reality is the intelligence to map, sense, track and understand minerals from their fundamental formation beneath our feet deep in the earth, as they move through the mining process to their final stage as commodities.
Mining the moon and Mars using autonomous robots is a pathway to prepare the way for future crewed missions, and potentially even human habitation. Australia is at the centre of the world’s most advanced mining industry innovation, and is looking to take to its know-how out of this world.
Textures define performance
Geometallurgy is being used to predict how chemically-similar iron ores can be processed more efficiently and cost-effectively based on their different textures or physical structures – with benefits at every stage of the value chain.
Virtual core: a library of Australia's mineralogy
It's estimated that there are more than 10 million metres of drillcore samples in vast warehouses around Australia, crammed with invaluable information for government, industry and researchers. The National Virtual Core Library is a fast-growing, globally-unique, open-access online resource of Australia's mineralogy.
Cloncurry region orebodies take shape
A breakthrough in integrating geophysical data will help to create 3D maps of orebodies, as well as deep mineral systems in Queensland's Cloncurry region. The innovative tools and techniques developed will enhance exploration efforts across Australia.
Drawing the line between rock types
We've developed a logging tool that automates the interpretation of different rock types in drillcore to enable rapid and reliable geological logging. The result is faster logging and more accurate 3D geological models.
resourceful issue 17: Setting the new gold standard
Innovation to better find and produce gold to meet 21st century challenges.
Gold has had a long and famed history in Australia since the first gold rush in 1851. But maintaining its lustre in the face of declining new discoveries, poor quality ores, growing community expectations and environmental pressures, begs the question: will the next 170 years be as golden? CSIRO Mineral Resources director, JONATHAN LAW, writes
Land of golden soil
From gum leaves and termite mounds to CSIRO's latest breakthrough in ultra fine soil sampling – explorers are successfully using innovative tools to find new gold targets in Australia's covered landscape.
21st century gold
The world's second largest gold-producing nation is not only rich in mineral wealth, but a melting pot of ideas and innovation to transform the industry to meet 21st century challenges.
Next generation mining
MICHELLE ASH is a mineral resources industry leader in innovation and transformation who understands that people and processes enable technology to be harnessed. She has 25 years’ experience in mining, most recently as chief innovation officer at Barrick Gold, where she established a reputation for driving a more open, collaborative industry. Interview by TONY HESELEV
Capturing the power of a tornado in a tank, CSIRO’s Swirl Flow may offer a better performing agitation and mixing system for gold processing. Its benefits start right at the top for Fosterville Gold Mine where it’s being applied to improve safety.
Widening the search space
A new gold minerals systems approach that uses data analytics is shifting the exploration focus from individual deposits to larger-scale search areas in Western Australia.
A sensor to detect gold on-line while a processing plant is running opens up a real-time window for operators to monitor their product quality and capture value from going to waste.
resourceful Issue 16: Regions in focus
Resources innovation supporting better economic, social and environmental outcomes in regional Australia
Innovations for regional development
There are significant opportunities to develop new Australian regions through resources. The challenge is to unlock this potential in a way that’s sustainable long-term and which benefits all stakeholders.
Uncovering new frontiers
The world’s largest mineral exploration collaboration is challenging perceptions of Australia as a mature destination with few opportunities for discoveries.
Tiny organisms – or microbes – are being explored for mine water treatment at Evolution Mining’s Mt Rawdon gold operation, where the company plans to adopt a wetland-like system to remove contaminants.
Into the deep earth
CSIRO and Geoscience Australia are bringing together multi-disciplinary teams to build the nation’s world-leading science expertise and tools to predict where deep orebodies lie.
Assessing real value
With seemingly endless options, identifying the right technology solution to provide value to given mine operation is a challenge. A new solution that forecasts the value, risk and business case of new mining technologies could aid decision-making and help to speed up adoption by Australia’s mining industry.
Automated groundwater monitoring
Heathgate Resources is trialing a world-first automated groundwater monitoring and reporting system that will save time and money, while paving the way for a new standard in environmental best practice for in situ mining.
The remote, resource-rich McArthur Basin has been the focus of a three-year research collaboration between CSIRO and the Northern Territory Geological Survey that aims to unlock the secrets of the region’s geology and attract commercial exploration activity.
Pilbara goes for gold
When conglomerate gold nuggets were discovered in the Pilbara in 2017, it sparked an old time gold rush. Geologists are now focused on understanding how the gold formed to determine whether or not the region, best known for its iron ore, could be further developed for gold.
resourceful Issue 15: Critical metals
Technology meets metal production to disrupt battery and other key metal industries.
Forces for disruption
Advances in new technology are driving forces for change in mining, and the impact is two-fold: changing the way we mine, while propelling significant shifts in the metal market.
Graphite goes green
Market demand for greener commodities has propelled an Australian exploration company to work with CSIRO on a more environmentally-friendly way to produce battery-grade graphite.
The battery charge
Battery metals may be shaping up as a major new Australian industry, as innovation aims to add value and give local companies a competitive advantage on the global stage.
Battery metals: a bubble or the next big thing?
Director of CSIRO’s mineral processing research, CHRIS VERNON, writes about the prospects of capturing a long-term opportunity in the battery market, and how Australian industry needs to secure its advantage through processing innovation.
Capturing the best of three commodties
Improvements to a new more energy-efficient vanadium process will enable an Australian resource company to diversify and market three products instead of one, while significantly reducing costs at a proposed new mining development.
Creating value for Australia
Interview with ELIZABETH LEWIS-GRAY, deputy chair of METS Ignited and managing director of leading Australian METS company Gekko Systems, on how Australia can capitalise on its leading METS sector to drive innovation and benefit the nation's resources sector more broadly.
The high-tech vision for the world’s first smart mineral processing plant will see integrated data technologies enable automated production.
Securing a key Australian export
Advanced research and development is helping to secure the value of Australia's iron ore exports.
The new mine model
Emerging science that takes the geology of a deposit and combines it with metallurgy and other statistics to provide a predictive model of processing options, can shed light on the economic potential of a resource to inform planning and development.
A green and gold first
The first "green" gold pour using CSIRO’s non-toxic gold recovery process has been achieved with a small Australian gold producer, showcasing how innovation could create niche market opportunities for more sustainable commodities.
Power to recycling
Australia could lead the world in the re-use and recycling of lithium-ion batteries, a report finds.
resourceful Issue 14: Innovate, improve, grow
Australian innovation is solving today's challenges, while underpinning strategic programs to unlock future value in the mineral resources industry.
Solutions for challenges of all sizes
As Australia’s most trusted publically-funded research agency, CSIRO brings together multi-disciplinary experts to deliver R&D solutions in a range of different ways to benefit the mineral resources industry.
Firing up phosphate production
A new smelting process for phosphate ores could open up the world’s lower grade reserves, while solving the industry’s waste problem. The solution has been licensed to an Australian company with plans to take it to the global market.
A new innovation fund is investing in start-up and spin-off companies born out of the public research sector that have potentially life-changing, high-yielding ideas. There are already four in the bank.
Keeping pace with rapid technological change and disruption is an emerging challenge that the mineral resources industry and research sector need to pay attention to.
Towards sustainable growth
A valuable knowledge base is helping the policy and business community understand how global material flows and impacts on economies. It aims to help balance economic growth with better environmental outcomes and show how countries are tracking against sustainability targets.
Adding depth to mapping
A detailed 3D map revealing rock type has been achieved for eight-times deeper below the surface than was previously possible, enabling Marindi Metals to better target its drilling program.
An important education program aims to increase Indigenous Australian participation and diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies and professions. LOUIS WHITE reports
The power of good connections
Power-intensive industries at home and abroad are working with CSIRO on improving electrical connections to cut their energy use, operating costs and carbon emissions.
Smarter, faster surveys
The region home to the well-known, yet mysterious Coompana magnetic anomaly was the testing ground for a recently-completed “smart sampling” trial that saw an area twice the size of Melbourne surveyed in just one week.
resourceful Issue 13: Data mining
In this edition of resourceful we showcase how new sensor and data technologies are driving mining decisions.
Re-imagining mining in the digital age
Digital innovation is a way to pull the levers of mining in an entirely new way – offering integration, speed and re-invention.
Sensing where to explore next
Sensor developments through the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre are enabling fast onsite analysis of a range of elements and minerals, helping explorers more cost-effectively navigate greenfields exploration.
A Rosetta Stone for ore
A new software tool, dubbed Rosetta, pulls together analytical data from a range of sources to understand the characteristics of an orebody, enabling exploration and mining companies to predict ore quality and evaluate and plan for mining and processing.
The tiny West Australian town of Menzies is the setting for a gold processing demonstration plant that aims to reinvigorate small gold miners with a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative to cyanide.
The Australian-developed Cave Tracker provides valuable information and insight into the previously, almost invisible process, of block cave mining
The virtual mine
Mining3 is commercialising a 3D-based software platform that can create and simulate a virtual mine. By positioning precisely where things are underground, it opens up opportunities such as controlling robots and tracking movement of ore of different grades.
Sorting out waste
Mining low grade ores is costing companies heavily on processing tonnes of waste rock. By rapidly sorting high value ore from waste on a conveyor using magnetic resonance technology, bulk ore sorting offers a step change in productivity for copper miners.
New era for gold analysis
Two commercially-available technologies, each with their own advantages, offer a new level of data on gold concentrations and can be used to optimise processes for greater value recovery.
Data to elevate social performance
Community disapproval can cost hundreds of millions of dollars in delays or the complete abandonment of a mining project. A new science-based solution that provides deep social insights aims to elevate the industry’s social performance to the same measurable rigour as other aspects of business.
It’s now possible to manage evaporation on mine pit lakes using an accurate, autonomous system. It takes daily water measurements and combines them with local weather data to predict how evaporation rates will change in the future.
resourceful Issue 12: A closer look at the big picture – understanding mineral ore
This edition of resourceful we take a closer look at the big picture, focusing on how rapid resource characterisation delivers productivity across the value chain.
The data scale revolution
Sensor and data analysis tools are driving advances in resource characterisation at every scale, a key opportunity for the mining industry and their suppliers to increase their productivity, writes CSIRO Mineral Resources director, JONATHAN LAW.
What you need to know about graphite
With the rise of electric vehicles, graphite is poised to be hot on the commodity market to meet the demand for lithium ion batteries. Two companies seeking to establish a competitive edge in the market have gained crucial understanding of their deposits and how to make the most of them. LOUIS WHITE reports
Matters of scale
Australia’s pre-eminent analytical facility for mineral resources is expanding with a new suite of technologies that will enable the world-first ability to characterise ore samples from kilometre to atomic scales. The benefit will be increased knowledge on rock systems and new data workflows for industry. ADAM COURTENAY reports
A complete picture
Head of CSIRO’s mineral characterisation research, DR LOUISE FISHER, explains why analysing data at every scale is essential to inform better decision making across the mining value chain.
Q&A with Rio Tinto: Data mining
Principal advisor in mineralogy at Rio Tinto, DR ESMÉ RYAN, shares her perspective on the importance of mineral characterisation data and the value it can deliver – from informing investments and development decisions to improving productivity for resource companies. Interview by KEIRISSA LAWSON
World-leading soft x-ray mineral characterisation developments are providing information for more profitable processing decision making. DAVID SIMPSON reports
Solving problems via simulation
The ability to simulate mineral processes and the industrial conditions they operate under such as heat, gas and pressure, is providing an accurate insight into how material behaves during processing and the impact on the end product. EMILY LEHMANN reports
Finding the right pathway
An investigation into processing options for a complex, low grade uranium deposit has resulted in an unexpected new pathway for an Australian miner turned technology supply business. LOUIS WHITE reports
Seeing on the inside
Pioneering work to 3D image the inside of rocks will transform the mining industry by removing the guesswork from mineral exploration and processing. JOHN MILLER reports
Collaborative research is breaking down barriers to cutting edge analytical technologies and data for junior explorers, while building our fundamental understanding of mineral systems. TIM TREADGOLD reports
resourceful magazine Issue 11: New depths
This edition of resourceful explores future science to unlock the earth's deep mineral, energy and water resources. Deep Earth Imaging is a new major investment in future science by CSIRO. Read both a national and industry perspective on Deep Earth Imaging, the opportunities for sourcing mineral, energy and groundwater resources, as well as some of CSIRO's other major investments that could benefit the minerals and mining industry.
New science to reduce exploration risk
Rapid shifts in technology are paving the way for developing innovative and potentially revolutionary imaging technologies that can reduce risks in deep earth exploration, writes JONATHAN LAW
Tackling new scientific frontiers
CSIRO has made six major science investments at the leading edge of world research trends in a bid to stay ahead of global disruption. TONY HESELEV reports
Exploration El Dorado
Although the deep earth remains largely unexplored, it’s believed to hold vast reserves of mineral, energy and water resources. ADAM COURTENAY explores a new groundbreaking science initiative aimed to reveal what opportunities lie below.
The society of the future will still need the earth’s mineral and energy resources, says former head of Geoscience Australia, CHRIS PIGRAM. But, with near-surface resources depleting, it’s time for the industry to take a giant leap and do things differently. Interview by JOHN MILLER
Deep thinking presents new opportunities
Technologies developed through CSIRO’s new Deep Earth Imaging research will deliver the best results with broad collaboration, says a leading industry geoscientist, JON HRONSKY, of Western Mining Services.
A new pool of young and diverse talent is being brought on board to tackle the next frontier in geoscience – Deep Earth Imaging. The vision is to build a start-up culture where risk-taking is encouraged, writes CSIRO’s DR MIKE MCWILLIAMS, the newly appointed platform leader.
A diverse pool of researchers have been brought together to integrate big data, materials, processing, sensors and robotics to deliver the underpinning science that will drive the next industrial revolution. ADAM COURTENAY reports
The ability to identify and access sustainable sources of water from deep underground will be critical for developing northern Australia and other arid regions of the country. TIM THWAITES reports
Lowering the cost of finding onshore and offshore oil and gas resources many kilometres below the surface is the focus of new research. TIM THWAITES reports
The data revolution will enable greater certainty and reduce risks in deep exploration. TIM THWAITES reports