Small-scale fault systems in the Earth’s crust have a strong correlation with the location of gold, a recent study of the St Ives Goldfields in Western Australia has found.
Our research, published in science journal Ore Geology Reviews, found that all major gold deposits are controlled by faults, but small fault systems are more likely to lead to gold than larger ones.
Researcher Dr Carsten Laukamp says the relationship between fault systems and gold traces is key to understanding the genesis of gold and could be used to help locate any commodity.
“Determining the spatial relationship between geological features such as fault lines, and gold traces, is not only important to understand how deposits form, it can also guide mineral exploration because we can use this information to develop predictive mineral maps,” he says.
Dr Laukamp and his team developed a predictive mineral map of the St Ives Goldfields that shows new prospective areas where there is a high likelihood that gold could be located.
“We used information such as rock type, colour, shape and size and geological boundaries – all information we can gather from drilling samples – to develop the map,” Dr Laukamp says.
“This research is one step in the development of predictive mineral maps that integrate various types of geological data.
“Next, we’ll incorporate data collected from aircrafts and satellites, such as geophysical and spectroscopic data, which will improve the information value and accuracy of the predictive mineral map.”
Learn more about our research in mineral exploration.
Media enquiries: Liz Greenbank | 03 9545 8563 | email@example.com
By Angela Beggs
Victorian metal casting company AW Bell has taken out this year’s Manufacturer of the Year Award for a medium sized business.
A Victorian Government initiative, the Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame Awards salute excellence in manufacturing.
Located in Dandenong, Victoria, AW Bell is a family owned and operated Australian small to medium enterprise (SME). They have been servicing Aussie manufacturers for more than 50 years with complex metal parts for demanding applications in areas such as defence, automotive and even biomedical.
In 2010 AW Bell partnered with CSIRO and brought on our materials expert, Dr Roger Lumley, with support from Enterprise Connect’s Researchers in Business program.
As a result of the company’s involvement in the Researchers in Business program, and the work performed throughout Roger’s placement, AW Bell are now the preferred supplier to a major international company within the aerospace industry.
But the casting business didn’t just stop at one award, they also had a staff member recognised as the Young Manufacturer of the Year – Steve Murtagh.
So congratulations are in order for AW Bell for their innovation in manufacturing; quality management; sustainable practices; export record and enabling technologies.
We salute excellence in manufacturing!
For more information visit the Awards website.
By Emily Lehmann
What rhymes with stalactite (well, kinda) and can put your heartburn at bay? Hydrotalcite.
Believe it or not, an antacid – hydrotalcite – is the key agent used in a new treatment our scientists have developed for removing contaminants from mining wastewater.
Like hydrotalcites can reduce acidity and indigestion in sour tummies, we found that they can also be used in wastewater to trap unwanted nasties for easy removal.
The treatment is set to make water management practices across the mining industry more sustainable. It will also reduce the amount of sludge, which is a by-product of the water treatment process that is difficult to dispose of, by up to 90 per cent.
Hydrotalcites are made-up of layered minerals consisting of aluminium and magnesium-rich layers. Our scientists discovered that they form in wastewater when the aluminium and magnesium (common contaminants already present in wastewater) levels are tweaked to an ideal ratio and the pH is increased.
The one-step process purifies the wastewater from mines in a faster, more effective way than the lime-based treatments currently being used by the mining industry.
The key issue with lime-based methods has been the volume of sludge that forms and the subsequent problems with dealing with this sludge – either to extract the contained water, which often requires additional treatment, or to find enough space for long-term disposal.
The new treatment overcomes these problems by producing a lot less sludge – that is around 80 to 90 per cent less sludge in initial results.
The treated water can also be recycled back into the plant to lower the total cost of water used in the mining operations, ultimately helping to reduce water consumption.
Media enquiries: Emily Lehmann|+61 39545 firstname.lastname@example.org
We all know what stereotypical scientists look like. They’re clad in white lab coats and safety glasses, stirring a bubbling beaker or transferring something from one test tube to another using one of those squeezy things, but not all scientist look like these guys and – gasp – not all of them work in a lab.
Yes, we’re talking about geologists. The scientists that come home after a field trip in the same outfit they left in, having not washed for days and covered in dirt.
These lovely, albeit somewhat smelly, scientists were kind enough to take some footage of their lab – the outback.
The team of three travelled a total of 5000km to the Hamersley Basin in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, where they conducted a survey of volcanic rocks in the region.
Iron ore is prolific in these parts and the chemistry of the rocks underneath the iron ore can tell them a lot.
They were looking at the rocks’ chemistry in order to form a baseline of information, which will allow them to better identify anomalies associated with the presence of iron ore, gold and other minerals in volcanic areas.
Underground mines can be hazardous places for humans, which is why the industry is investing in robots and automated vehicles to keep workers safe.
We developed a system for load-haul-dump vehicles, commercialised by Caterpillar and now called Minestar-Command-Underground, which takes humans out of the equation and allows the vehicle to react to its environment all by itself.
A load-haul-dump vehicle if you can guess, is an underground mining vehicle that loads, hauls and dumps mineral ore from the mine at an open stope (where the minerals are) to a crusher or truck to be transported to the surface.
A combination of onboard computers, sensors and lasers enables the vehicle to tram to and from load and dump points on autopilot, which accurately steers the machine to prevent it hitting walls.
Unlike other systems, there is no prescribed path for the vehicle to take – the system continuously reacts to the environment and decides for itself how to respond. As it drives, it builds a map of the underground structure and compares it to an abstract mine map, evaluating the information before getting into any trouble.
If you’re thinking that robots are taking our jobs don’t worry, humans aren’t entirely out of the equation. Instead of getting dirty underground, they’re sitting in a comfortable office tracking the vehicle’s progress as digital video is sent via WiFi.
And not only does Minestar-Command-Underground make mining safer, it also increases the efficiency and productivity of the mine.
As Australians battle another hot, dry summer, a new shower nozzle that uses up to 50 per cent less water while maintaining the sensation of full pressure could provide us with guilt-free showers – simply by adding air.
Dr Jie Wu, one of our fluids specialist, says the Oxijet nozzle feels just as wet and strong as a full flow shower, but uses much less water. It also differs from traditional ‘low flow’ devices.
“Traditional flow restrictors reduce flow and pressure, whereas Oxijet uses the flow energy to draw air into the water stream, making the water droplets hollow,” Dr Wu said.
“This expands the volume of the shower stream, so you can save the same amount of water, while still enjoying the illusion of a full flow shower.”
With Melbourne’s daily water use this summer doubling from the former target of 155 litres per day and the price of water going up, the new shower nozzle could provide some cost effective, water saving relief.
The device was recently trialled by Novotel Northbeach in Wollongong and is planned to be installed across the whole hotel.
“With over 200 rooms we go through over 10 million litres of water per year, so any saving we can make is very important. We’ve found our customers prefer Oxijet over other ‘low flow’ shower heads, because it gives the illusion of full water pressure,” Mr Walter Immoos, General Manager of Novotel Northbeach said.
Oxijet was developed by New Zealand company Felton in collaboration with CSIRO and It can be fitted to most existing shower heads. It is accredited by the Australian Watermark and Water Efficiency and Labelling Standards and is available for purchase across Australia.
Check out how it works:
By Kylie Williams
Petrochemicals are, like, so last century. Biodegradable, bioderived biomaterials are all the rage, and for good reason too.
Products like plastics, paints, adhesives and lubricants are mostly derived from dwindling supplies of petroleum, an increasingly costly finite resource.
With pressure mounting to reduce our dependence on petroleum products, CSIRO is leading the charge to develop new, sustainable bioplastics from renewable resources and to use plants as biofactories to produce industrial products.
In the early 2000s, CSIRO developed a bio-derived and biodegrable starch-based packaging material. Australian company Plantic was set up to commercialise the product, which was subsequently manufactured in various forms for packaging refrigerated fresh foods such as meats, fish and pasta, and for chocolate trays that were used by customers including Nestlé, Lindt and Cadbury Schweppes.
It is estimated that Plantic bioplastics require 50 per cent less energy to manufacture and have 40–70 per cent lower greenhouse gas emissions for production than conventional plastics.
CSIRO is also working with Biofiba Limited to develop a revolutionary material (BioFiba88) that can be moulded into planks to replace timber used in export shipping pallets. Billions of timber export pallets are manufactured and sold globally each year.
More recently, CSIRO used gene silencing technology to develop a new variety of the safflower plant – its oil contains the world’s highest levels of valuable oleic acid. The oil combines high-purity for industrial chemical production with tremendous stability for direct use in industrial lubricants and fluids, creating a versatile, valuable industrial raw material produced above the ground, not below it.
Ant and termite nests could lead to hidden treasure according to research conducted by CSIRO.
Research published in science journals PLoS ONE and Geochemistry: Exploration, Environment, Analysis, found that at a test site in the West Australian goldfields termite mounds contained high concentrations of gold. This gold indicates there is a larger deposit underneath.
“We’re using insects to help find new gold and other mineral deposits. These resources are becoming increasingly hard to find because much of the Australian landscape is covered by a layer of eroded material that masks what’s going on deeper underground,” Dr Aaron Stewart, CSIRO entomologist said.
Termites and ants burrow into this layer of material where a fingerprint of the underlying gold deposit is found, and bring traces of this fingerprint to the surface.
“The insects bring up small particles that contain gold from the deposit’s fingerprint, or halo, and effectively stockpile it in their mounds,” Dr Stewart said.
“Our recent research has shown that small ant and termite mounds that may not look like much on the surface, are just as valuable in finding gold as the large African mounds are that stand several metres tall.”
Mineral resources make up $86.7 billion of Australia’s exports and new discoveries in many commodities are required to sustain production. After 150 years of mining, gold and other mineral deposits near the surface have been discovered and miners need new tools to explore deeper underground.
Insects could provide a new, cost effective and environmentally friendly way of exploring for new mineral deposits, avoiding the traditional method of expensive and often inaccurate drilling.
Dr Stewart’s work has also found that insects carry metals in their bodies.
“We’ve found that metals accumulate in excretory systems of termites,” he said.
“Although the insects may not concentrate metals in their bodies, they actively rid their bodies of excess metals. This process shows up as little stones, much like kidney stones in people. This finding is important because these excretions are a driving force in redistribution of metals near the surface.”
Dr Stewart was selected as a finalist in this year’s Fresh Science Awards.
Media: Liz Greenbank. Mb: 0408 778 189. E: email@example.com
By Crystal Ladiges
On the surface, Australia doesn’t seem to have a great deal in common with the Republic of Chile, our friend from across the Pacific.
Australia is an island. Chile controls Easter Island.
Australia’s mainland is the smallest, flattest continent on Earth. Chile is home to the Andes, the world’s longest continental mountain range.
Recently, a Victorian man discovered a Corn Flake shaped like Australia. I’m yet to come across any credible reports of Chilean-shaped cereal.
While we are seemingly different in many ways, two things our nations do have in common are a dry climate and a large mining sector that requires an abundant supply of water.
That’s why water is a major focus of the CSIRO Chile International Centre of Excellence in Mining and Mineral Processing, which has two research nodes – one in the capital Santiago and another in the industrial centre of Antofagasta.
Antofagasta has one of the driest environments in the world, meaning freshwater is a scarce commodity. This is why pumping seawater to copper mines (a very expensive process) might become an unavoidable reality.
For this to be achieved several barriers must be overcome: equipment and pipelines will have to be improved to cope with the corrosive nature of seawater; water rights management systems will have to be put in place; and cost and energy offsets will have to be found. These are the problems that the Centre of Excellence is trying to solve.
While we do have our differences, both Australians and Chileans understand the importance of managing our scarce water resources.
Read more about our minerals research in resourceful magazine.
By Angela Beggs
It’s enough to make any fashionista cringe. Even I can tell you that when it comes to outerwear, synthetic is less than desirable.
Luckily our stem cell researchers have a different view. Synthetics are now playing a lead role in the field of regenerative medicine – in a slightly different form than we currently know them of course.
Our researchers are hard at work developing new ways to grow stem cells using synthetic materials. Scientists are now able to create cell therapies for the treatment of chronic diseases and produce replacement cells for transfusions and transplantation. Thanks to advancements in stem cell technologies, we’re anticipating a range of big medical breakthroughs – and it’s all thanks to our artificial friend.
Synthetic material gives researchers greater control of stem cell growth, makes it safer to use stem cell therapies in humans, and decreases the cost of growing cells.
Go to the surface initiated polymerisation website to find out more.
We’ve developed a sensor to detect undetonated explosives on the sea floor, based on a technology used to find mineral deposits underground.
The sensor was developed as part of a project with US Government agency, the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and US-based research organisation Sky Research.
The method for finding undetonated underwater explosives is very similar to that used to detect underground mineral deposits, says CSIRO electrical engineer Dr Keith Leslie.
“Our highly sensitive sensor – the high temperature superconducting tensor gradiometer – delivers significantly more information about the target’s magnetic field than conventional sensors used for this type of detection,” he said.
“It provides data on the location, characterisation and magnetic qualities of a target – whether it is a gold deposit or an explosive.”
Over 10 million acres of coastal waters are contaminated by undetonated explosives, according to SERDP. Typically these small explosives rust and corrode at sea, making them even more dangerous.
“The marine environment is difficult to sample due to electrical currents produced by waves, which affect underwater magnetic fields,” Dr Leslie said.
“In mineral exploration, near surface deposits are being exhausted, leading our search for minerals deeper underground, where targets are more difficult to detect with traditional surface and airborne measurements.”
Our sensor can provide valuable geological information that discriminates between prospective and non-prospective areas or targets. It avoids unnecessary drilling and minimises the risk of overlooking valuable mineral deposits.
“Our sensor has a critical advantage for small targets such as undetonated explosives, where only one or two measurements may be near the target,” Dr Leslie said.
“In mineral exploration, a string of measurements of the gradients of the magnetic field down a drill hole can determine the direction to the target.”
Eventually the technology may renew exploration efforts at abandoned sites where drilling programs were based on insufficient or inaccurate information. It also has the potential to help clear landmines.
The sensor has been proved in a stationary laboratory environment. Trials have been conducted to prove it in motion, in preparation for anticipated underwater trials.
This article appeared in resourceful magazine, released yesterday.