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Queensland tests new CSIRO drill core logger

CSIRO : 02 July, 2003  (Technical Article)
A new rapid core logging system for mapping selected minerals in drill cores, and which has the potential to save the mining industry millions of dollars, was put through its paces in Brisbane today, July 2, 2003.
Developed by CSIRO in collaboration with the mining industry through AMIRA International, the system applies state-of-the-art aircraft and satellite-based mineral-mapping technology to significantly increase the geological, geotechnical and metallurgical knowledge gained from drill cores, chips and blast hole powders.

During an industry demonstration at the Department of Natural Resources and Mines Exploration Data Centre in Zillmere, CSIRO's Dr Jon Huntington said the equipment could automatically and continuously map the minerals in drill cores at a rate of 500 to 600 metres per day-or 6 centimetres per second-and at a resolution of 1 centimetre or less.

Dr Huntington, a Chief Research Scientist with CSIRO Exploration and Mining in Sydney, and his team have developed what is believed to be the world's first automatic system for mapping drill core.

'At the heart of the system is a sophisticated visible to short-wave infrared reflectance spectrometer that rapidly measures molecular level absorption characteristics of a suite of alteration and rock-forming minerals', Dr Huntington said.

'The system also includes automated tray handling, spectrometer, illumination, safety processes and high-resolution imaging subsystems,' he said.

'Potential savings for the mining industry will come from advance warning of minerals that may adversely affect processing circuits or indicate unsafe or 'bad' ground,' said Dr John Read, Mining Science Coordinator with CSIRO Exploration and Mining, based at the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies.

Mr Dave Mason, Director of the department's Geological Survey of Queensland, said the technology would improve returns to the mining industry from exploration drilling.

'Detailed knowledge of the mineralogy is beneficial to explorers and helps define alteration patterns, for better targeting of drill holes. For mining this knowledge can contribute to grade control, assessment of mine stability, optimisation of ore processing and improved understanding of ore-forming processes', Mr Mason said.

He went on to explain that the Brisbane demonstration was an initial test of a Virtual Core Library concept, whereby the millions of metres of core drilled around the world each year could be logged, with the results made available over the Internet or via company Intranets.

'As custodians of information about the State's mineral assets, we are very interested in new ways of promoting and using this information to best advantage', he said.

During the demonstration at the department's Zillmere data centre, the core logger is analysing about 1500 metres of coal, base metal and stratigraphic core (used to assist geologists map areas covered by soil).

Mr Mason said the CSIRO system could be viewed in operation at the Exploration Data Centre, 68 Pineapple St, Zillmere from today (Wednesday 2 July) and Thursday 3 July, if numbers warrant. If you wish to attend, please ring Mr Peter Linn, Manager, Exploration Data Centre, on 07 3863 8710.

The new system has been successfully tested by mining companies in the Mount Isa area, Western Australia and South Australia. This demonstration is part of a program to develop interest amongst potential commercial partners to work with CSIRO to take the technology to the market place.

Funding for the drill core analyser is being provided by a group of seven mining companies, CSIRO through its 'Glass Earth' initiative, and the Cooperative Research Centre for Predictive Mineral Discovery.
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