Adelaide-based disruptor Chrysos Corporation is using cutting-edge material analysis technology to step around centuries-old methods to improve returns to gold mining companies.
CEO Dirk Treasure said Chrysos has a strong network of leading scientists, engineers, manufacturing specialists and commercialisation managers. The company is backed by the brains of the national science agency CSIRO and the financial acumen of RFC Ambrian.
"The company model adopted when Chrysos was formed meant each party involved was able to contribute what they do best, allowing Chrysos to rapidly commercialise the technology," Mr Treasure said.
"We had a lean operating model and the flexibility to make decisions, which really helped us hit our milestones quickly.
"We took the science developed by CSIRO and calibrated it for industry.
"We've also built strong working relationships with our manufacturing partner Nuctech, and Perenti (formerly Ausdrill) on the customer side to make sure the solution met our prospective customers’ needs.
"With these types of business structures it has to be a win: win relationship.
"Every player needs to directly benefit from their involvement, and that’s certainly what we have with Chrysos," he said.
Power of partnerships
CSIRO Minerals Research Director Nick Cutmore agrees that Chrysos's success over the past four years is a testament to the importance of relationships.
"The spin-out process brought together some of the best minds in this area," Dr Cutmore said.
"We had been working on this technology for around 15 years. We knew it had the potential to make a real impact in the market, but we’d need to develop strong partnerships to make it happen," he said.
While our traditional model is to licence its technology to third party companies, forming new companies through spin-outs and joint ventures has allowed us to help create new industries, hundreds of new jobs and billions of dollars in market capitalisation.
Our commercialisation experts are key to this, bringing together the right partners for spin-out companies.
"After a search to find the right commercial partner we connected with RFC Ambrian. As our advisory company they were truly instrumental in helping us spin-out the company with the backing of a syndicate of investors and customers," he said.
Developing an economically attractive investment offering
Rob Adamson, Executive Chairman of RFC Ambrian said that as a leading independent adviser and investor in the natural resources sector, the firm understands the real potential for technologies to deliver value.
“When we were introduced to CSIRO's PhotonAssay technology, we were really interested in being involved in its commercialisation. We could see the huge potential in this truly disruptive technology.
Rob Adamson, Executive Chairman of RFC Ambrian
"We put forward a business model built around a take or pay leasing arrangement which proved instrumental in removing barriers to client uptake and enhancing returns to the company.
"We also adopted a highly targeted approach to capital raising and worked with parties who would ultimately understand, support and/or benefit from the development of the PhotonAssay technology.
"PhotonAssay is hugely important to the minerals industry as the chemistry free measurement technique not only improves safety of a key industrial process, but enhanced speed and accuracy enables greater production per tonne of ore mined."
Eyes on the future
Mr Treasure says Chrysos is looking forward to continuing its growth story.
"We have successfully commissioned PhotonAssay systems at two of Perenti's MinAnalytical facilities, one in Perth and two in Kalgoorlie, and are currently working towards developing automated sample preparation equipment.
"The upcoming automated sample preparation equipment means that the Kalgoorlie site will be able to rapidly assay up to 1 million samples per year," Mr Treasure said.
Following the success of the Chrysos joint venture, CSIRO partnered with RFC Ambrian again in 2017, along with Advisian Digital (the consulting arm of Worley), to launch NextOre, a joint venture utilising another family of CSIRO research.
About the technology
PhotonAssay allows for faster decision-making across the value chain. Using powerful x-ray analysis, this innovative solution offers mineral analysis data in minutes. The technique uses high powered x-rays to bombard rock samples and activate atoms of gold and other metals. A highly sensitive detector then picks up the unique atomic signatures from these elements to determine their concentrations.
The solution offers a rapid alternative to the conventional, 500-year-old fire assay technique.
Our track record with new venture creation
Spin-out companies are one way that we work to bring science and business together to bring new value to grow industries.
A spin-out company is the creation of a separate company from part of an existing firm. We have a successful track record in creating spin-out companies to commercialise a specific technology or capability.
We’ve spun out more than 175 companies to commercialise our technology or capabilities. These companies have a combined market capitalisation of over $2 billion and employ more than 460 people.