Universities combine to streamline critical mineral mining

Curtin University and the Australian National University (ANU) have joined forces to help Australian mining companies better identify, characterise and extract critical minerals with a focus on sustainability.

The two universities will combine their expertise and research to assist the industry with ore body characterisation, education and training.

The joint work will not only allow enhanced extraction of these materials, but ensure it is environmentally sustainable to ensure the long-term viability of Australia’s minerals industry.

ANU deputy vice-chancellor Keith Nugent said researchers will use their expertise in 3D modelling and custom technology developed in-house to help characterise minerals, making it easier and safer for mining companies to remove them from the ground.

“Minerals are critical to existing, new and emerging technologies that power our lives and businesses every day,” Nugent said.

“The iron ore industry, for example, is intensely competitive worldwide and increasingly dependent on advances in product performance and energy efficiencies.

“Both are dependent on innovations in management of ore material driven by a more effective characterisation of the ore product and understanding of the downstream performance potential of the ore as it progresses along the value chain from the mine to mill.

“ANU has built a 3D platform for imaging, processing, physical modelling, understanding and designing the characteristics of the earth. It will enable minerals companies to quickly identify the materials they are searching for and how to best extract them.”

Curtin deputy vice-chancellor and research professor Chris Moran said the collaboration has been supported by more than $45 million of investment in the John De Laeter Minerals Characterisation facility and the data analytics capability of the Curtin Institute for Computation.

“Curtin and ANU will make a formidable team as we look to improve the competitiveness of the minerals industry through harnessing the fast acceleration of characterisation and imaging technologies,” Moran said.

“A key component of the collaboration will be helping the Western Australia mining sector, as well as other Australian companies, continually improve their operations as well as future proofing Australia’s emerging green steel and critical metal industries.”

Curtin has a long history of working with Australia’s mining and resource sector, applying research expertise to enhance operations and services particularly through the Western Australia School of Mines established in 1908.

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