A new CSIRO research centre focused on developing economic, environmentally and socially sustainable processes for Australia’s minerals industry was officially opened today.
The Australian Minerals Research Centre at Waterford, Western Australia, will help the industry remain competitive in global markets and enhance collaboration between public and private sector research groups.
CSIRO Manufacturing, Materials and Minerals Group Executive Dr Steve Morton said world-class mineral processing research capability was essential to help the industry address challenges such as declining ore grades, increasing costs and greater competition.
“In 2003, CSIRO committed $15 million to expand our mineral processing laboratories in Western Australia and create a research facility that would enable increased collaboration between public research groups and industry,” Dr Morton said.
“The result of this investment is the Australian Minerals Research Centre.”
Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum, The Hon. Norman Moore, highlighted the key role the minerals industry plays in the Australian economy at the official opening today.
“In 2007–08, our mineral exports (including coal) generated $89 billion in export earnings for Australia,” Minister Moore said.
“The industry is particularly important for Western Australia – the nation’s largest producer of alumina, gold, iron ore and nickel.’
“The expertise and facilities offered by the Australian Minerals Research Centre will provide a significant boost to hydrometallurgy research and help address the short and long-term needs of the industry,” Minister Moore added.
Hydrometallurgical techniques – which use wet processes to recover metals from ores, concentrates or other metal-bearing materials – are used to produce commodities including alumina, cobalt, copper, gold, nickel, rare earths and uranium.
In addition to housing more than 80 CSIRO staff, the Australian Minerals Research Centre houses the headquarters of the Parker Cooperative Research Centre for Integrated Hydrometallurgy Solutions, and research staff from Direct Nickel and Nalco, thus forming a real ‘collaborative hub’ in minerals research.