Six-legged miners strike gold

10 December 2012

in 2012

Termites and ants are stockpiling gold in their mounds, new CSIRO research has found.

Australia’s smallest and most numerous mining prospectors can show us where new gold deposits are. [click to continue…]

New genus of bugs discovered at WA alumina refinery

Previously unknown species of naturally-occurring bacteria have the potential to save the alumina and aluminium industries millions of dollars while helping to reduce their impact on the environment, microbiologist Naomi McSweeney has found in a collaborative project between Alcoa of Australia, CSIRO and the University of Western Australia. [click to continue…]

…by putting the squeeze on mining waste

You may not be able to squeeze blood out of a stone but, by applying the right amount of ultrasound during processing, Jianhua (Jason) Du and colleagues from the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE) have been able to squeeze a considerable amount of fresh water from mining waste. [click to continue…]

Using microscopic streams of liquid to separate valuable metals from dissolved rock could revolutionise mineral processing, according to researchers at the University of South Australia.

The researchers already have shown the technique can be used to extract copper quickly and efficiently. They believe the process can be scaled up to industrial levels and used for recovering many other minerals such as nickel, uranium, gold and platinum. [click to continue…]

The first practical atom laser is a step closer today thanks to Australian researchers. [click to continue…]

Could Australia rise to the top of the diamond pipe again? Macquarie University researcher
Craig O’Neill believes his research could open new diamond fields across Australia.

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A PhD student in QLD improves mine safety with her predictive computer program

Some of the risk involved in working underground is being reduced by a revolutionary approach to predicting the collapse of mine retaining walls .

“In mining, huge voids are created underground when valuable ore is removed. Voids often the size of a 50 story-high building,” said Kirralee Rankine, a PhD student at James Cook University.

“The holes are filled up with waste rock. First the rock is crushed to a powder and mixed with water to make a slurry that is about the consistency of soup. It is then pumped back into the underground holes.”

“Retaining walls are constructed to contain the slurry as it is being pumped into the hole. If the walls breaks, thousands of tonnes of slurry is released into the underground tunnels.” 

“If we can accurately predict soil and rock behaviour, we can properly manage the risk of in-rush,” she said.

Kirralee has done just that. As part of her PhD, she has developed laboratory techniques and written a computer program to simulate components of the filling and drainage processes in underground mines. This have given the mining industry a better understanding of drainage behaviour.

The three-dimensional computer program is the first of its kind that will be available for mines throughout Australia and worldwide to use as an effective prediction tool in mine drainage.

The techniques developed by Kirralee are already being implemented in mines across Australia, and she hopes that through continued research and with the aid of her drainage prediction tools, the potential for mine in-rush will be reduced.

Kirralee is one of 15 early-career scientists presenting their work to the public and media as part of Fresh Science, a national competition that highlights the work of young scientists. The person who best meets the requirements of the program will win a study tour to the UK courtesy of British Council Australia. 

Underground retaining wall construction    
A very well prepared mud pie  Preparation of mine slurry  Brick pressure testing chamber

An artificial mineral made with sugar could sponge up oil spills and replace cyanide in gold mining

A new class of materials developed by chemists at the University of Melbourne could spawn an industry for custom catalysts, molecular sieves and materials for nanotechnology. [click to continue…]

Melbourne scientists plan to harness the strange appetite of newly discovered Australian bacteria to help purify arsenic-contaminated water. [click to continue…]

Australian scientists have developed a fast, simple and reliable method of camouflaging ships and submarines against magnetic detection by marine mines. [click to continue…]

Ants have the answers when it comes to assessing the effects of land management on the environment.

Up to 20 million ants from 100 species live in any single hectare of the Australian bush, says CSIRO ecologist, Dr Ben Hoffmann. [click to continue…]


Fossil molecules from cells of bacteria and algae many millions of years old may hold the key to reading life signals from extra terrestrial sources, according to research conducted by AGSO – Geoscience Australia researcher, Dr Graham Logan.

Some molecules within living cells fossilise very well and can reveal evidence of past life, environments and geothermal processes.

Geologists have been studying such fossils in their quest to better understand the formation of major mineral deposits of lead, zinc and silver. Such an understanding will lead to better and more efficient exploration of new Australian mineral deposits.

Dr Logan studied the 1640 million-year old lead-zinc-silver deposit at McArthur River in the Northern Territory. [click to continue…]

Melbourne researcher, Matthew Jeffrey, is developing a new technique that replaces cyanide with a non-toxic chemical to recover gold from ore bodies.

The non-toxic chemical, known as thiosulfate, is commonly used as a fixative in photography. [click to continue…]

Researchers in Monash University’s Australian Crustal Research Centre have made a discovery that could have important implications for pinpointing where to look for large deposits of metal.

While the Earth’s crust had previously been thought to be the source of most metals, these new findings suggest that they in fact originate much deeper, in the mantle. [click to continue…]

Building environmentally friendly mountains in the outback: design of Post-Mining Landscapes For Erosion Control – Gary Sheridan

Coal-mining has disturbed over 50,000 ha of land that requires more than $1 Billion to rehabilitate. Scott’s software is being used to design mountains that won’t wash away. [click to continue…]

Searching for oil and gas on Australia’s North West Shelf using a perspex tank full of honey, putty, sand and cake sprinkles may seem a little bizarre, but University of WA geologist Dr. Myra Keep believes it may help us locate where oil fields may or may not be. [click to continue…]