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New X-ray technology to help speed up gold mining process: Aussie researchers

Updated: 12 15 , 2016 13:59
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CANBERRA, Dec. 15 -- New X-ray technology which can give miners "real-time" information about gold deposits in rocks could help revolutionize the assay industry by saving time, money and reducing toxic waste, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said Thursday.

Inventor of the PhotonAssay X-ray gold detection technology Dr James Tickner from the CSIRO said his new method uses high-strength X-rays to bombard rock samples and activate the gold atoms inside.

A detector is then used to pick up the "unique signatures" which the gold atoms - and other elements - emit, to determine the concentration levels and therefore the feasibility of mining the area for gold.

Tickner said the new method will give mine operators "real-time" information, something they've never had in the past.

"Existing analysis methods can take a day or more to return a result, which can be a real problem if miners needs information right now to manage their operations," Tickner said in a statement on Thursday.

"Our patented PhotonAssay will be a game changer, capable of delivering accurate results in just a few minutes without generating the toxic waste products which have been problematic in other assay systems."

Tickner said the invention would prove useful in a field - particularly in Australia - which is in decline.

He said by quickly analyzing soils and rocks, miners can determine whether or not it is worth pursuing, while the technology can also be used to determine the presence of other, lower quality ores as well.

"We have focussed on improving the accuracy, sensitivity and simplicity of the technology to make it useful for low-grade Australian operations," Tickner said.

"By giving our clients reliable and fast information we are increasing their potential to maximize their profits and increase productivity, even on lower quality ores."

The technology will be sold through the Chrysos Corporation, of which the CSIRO will have a 34 percent stake.

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