Innovative gold extraction technology wins university prize

A new form of gold extraction technology has landed first prize at the 2014 Curtin Commercial Innovation Awards.

The carbon meter tool could revolutionise existing gold extraction practices, making previously labour-intensive methods obsolete.

According to Perth-based Curtin University, the technology allows metallurgists to optimise gold extraction, significantly reducing costs, driving efficiency and increasing yields.

Rohan McDougall, director of the academic institution’s Office of IP Commercialisation, said the simplicity of the carbon meter is one of its key benefits.

“Instead of sampling a litre of carbon from the top of a 1 million litre tank, this approach automates the process, measuring 20 litre samples regularly throughout the day, making it less labour intensive and much more accurate,” he explained.

New technologies can have a significant impact on investment in gold, with higher production yields meaning there is a greater supply of the precious metal on the market.

Last year, gold prices slumped 28 per cent, which can make some gold mines commercially unviable. However, techniques that reduce costs could ensure profit margins remain high enough to continue production.

Mr McDougall claimed the carbon meter looks promising and the university is examining ways to make the product available to businesses in the industry.

“The prototype is currently being trialled in Victoria and we are looking to market the technology to gold mines worldwide in the near future,” he explained.

This year’s Curtin Innovation Awards explored ways to boost productivity in industry and education, with the gold extraction technology engineered by Adjunct Professor Bill Staunton and his team.

Overall, there were four winning entrants, who shared $35,000 in cash and commercialisation opportunities. In the past, winners have often raised the money to bring new products and services to market that benefit the wider community.

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