New technologies can be disruptive, realign profit centres and drive economic change across industries and entire economies. Indeed, as the economist Joseph Schumpeter’s process of ‘creative destruction’ suggested, the biggest leaps in economic development are often driven by new technology. So, here is one that might just do that in the mining industry. While we’ve mentioned it before, as it reaches its latest milestone it’s well worth reiterating.
The Chrysos Corporation is set to make gold-fire assays a thing of the past as it commercialises its PhotonAssay™ technology, which provides ‘assays at the speed of light’. It’s estimated that approximately US$1bn pa is spent by gold producers around the world on fire assay services. However, due to the lengthy delays, explorers and producers are unable to incorporate assay results into their real-time operations. Chrysos could be about to change all that.
RFC Ambrian has acted as business incubator and provided advisory and fundraising assistance to Chrysos since its inception in 2016. We raised the initial seed capital in early 2017. Since then, Chrysos has made remarkable progress; just ten months after that fund raising, the first PhotonAssay Max unit has completed Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) at Nuctech’s manufacturing plant in China, and is now being packed up to be shipped to the first customer (and development partner), Ausdrill’s MinAnalytical in Perth. The FAT process involved the analysis of 1,600 samples and used certified reference materials that were used for calibration and performance validation, along with materials supplied by several clients. Results were well within expectations.
The unit is expected to be commissioned in early March, with Ausdrill planning to offer PhotonAssay as part of its grade control drilling service for client mines. It has garnered huge interest from the mining industry, with corporates accounting for around 20% of the world’s gold production having sent samples for testing as the first unit underwent FAT.
Assaying of mineral samples to determine their gold content is a fundamental step in gold exploration, mining and processing. While fire assay is currently the industry standard method for determining gold content in ore samples, this is a laborious and time-consuming manual process. It has a slow turnaround, requires the complete destruction of the samples, produces lead-contaminated waste and has OH&S risks for fire assay technicians.
Chrysos has a truly disruptive technology. The unique PhotonAssay method (this is not XRF) has been developed over the past 15 years by CSIRO. (CSIRO is a world-leading research body for innovation and the development of scientific ideas. Funded by the Australian Government, CSIRO have been responsible for many inventions, including WiFi, plastic bank notes and extended wear contact lenses.) The Chrysos technology provides rapid, accurate, non-destructive and fully automated analysis of ore grade. It takes a few minutes from sample presentation to result, at a rate of up to 80 samples per hour. It is sensitive, has 2-3x improved accuracy on fire assays, requires minimal sample preparation (crushed rock) and no toxic or caustic reagents are required. Fire assays cost mining companies considerable time and money, and lead to an information lag behind what is actually going on in the mining and processing operations at any given moment.
In effect, this is real-time assaying. The productivity and efficiency benefits for mining companies are huge. At the moment Chrysos can assay for gold, but additional elements, including silver, copper, lead and zinc, could be added during 2018.
Chrysos is planning to provide assay units to larger mine sites and regional mining centres on a cost per sample basis. If you would like to know more about Chrysos, please contact us.
For further and more detailed information please contact RFC Ambrian directly:
T. +612 9250 0000