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laboratories at ANSTO's Minerals division
Products & Services

Minerals

COVID-19 Update

ANSTO is committed to the health and wellbeing of our people, users, collaborators and communities. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are making changes to support continuity of operations. 

For the time being, laboratory and pilot based work will be reduced. We’ll focus on delivering all work that has been completed to date and will discuss with customers how best to deliver remaining work as the situation improves.

If you require more information or assistance please contact our team via mineralsenquiries@ansto.gov.au or call +61 2 9717 7501.

The Minerals business unit has world-leading expertise in uranium ore processing, rare earth processing, lithium processing (brines and hardrock), zirconium/niobium/hafnium processing, base metals processing, radioactivity control and management, and novel flowsheet design.
 
We are committed to providing practical solutions and innovative technologies in ways that deliver financial and environmental benefits to our clients.

Consultancy / Process Development

Minerals consultancy and process development

The Minerals business unit has been providing consulting services and process development services to the mining and minerals processing industries for 40 years.

Our experienced team of engineers, metallurgists, chemists and scientists have a proven track record of working with our clients in Australia and around the world to design and evaluate novel flowsheets and improve established processes.

The capabilities and experience that our team has built over the last 40 years are outlined below. Please feel free to contact any member of our team to discuss how we can assist you and help develop your project.

Capability statement overview

Base Metals

Base Metals
Several of our team members have extensive experience in process modelling and development, operation support and plant design for the processing of base metals minerals to produce saleable products.
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Critical and Speciality Metals Processing

Critical and Speciality Metals Processing
Our team has a vast range of industrial experience encompassing mineral processing, hydrometallurgical, and pyro-metallurgical processing of specialty metals including zirconium, niobium, scandium, titanium, molybdenum, tungsten, gold and silver.
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Heap and In-Situ Leaching

Heap and In-Situ Leaching
Our facilities include over 30 temperature controlled 2 m vertical columns and 8 temperature controlled 4 m columns, which have been utilised in a number of uranium and other heap leach programs. A range of 1 and 2 m horizontal columns are also available.
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Ion Exchange

Ion Exchange
Our team has delivered a wide variety of bench top and pilot plant scale ion exchange programs on uranium, lithium, base metals and specialty elements. We have in-house expertise in resin functional group chemistry and solution speciation and house a dedicated Ion Exchange Laboratory as well as several modular pilot plant areas, and associated equipment to conduct batch and continuous test work.
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Lithium Processing

Lithium Processing
Several of our team members have considerable expertise in lithium flowsheet development and in the processing of lithium deposits to produce saleable lithium chemical concentrates We are one of the few groups with experience with both brine and hardrock feedstocks (including spodumene and Li bearing micas, clays and claystones).
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Membrane Separation

Membrane Separation
Our team has been evaluating and designing membrane separation systems for hydromet applications for over a decade. We have experience with a wide variety of membranes across a diverse range of mineral related projects. Both laboratory flat sheet apparatus and a commercial scale spiral wound membrane pilot plant are available at our facility.
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Mineralogy

Mineralogy
Our dedicated mineralogists provide specialised knowledge on the mineralogy of ores/concentrates and the wide variety of solids and residues typically generated in hydromet processes. We have well-equipped facilities that can handle a diverse range of samples, particularly those containing elevated concentrations of uranium and thorium.
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Novel Flowsheet Design Modelling and Engineering

Novel Flowsheet Design Modelling and Engineering
Our team has specialised knowledge in novel flowsheet design and development, with a proven track record in applying our technical expertise in numerous lithium, uranium, base metals, rare earths and specialty metal projects.
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Piloting Operations

Piloting Operations
Our pilot plant operations are key to our service offering, and play a leading role in transferring the results of laboratory test work programs to industry. We pride ourselves on working closely with our clients to design and operate pilot plant facilities that demonstrate the technical and financial viability of their projects.
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Radioanalytical

Radioanalytical
ANSTO’s radioanalytical facilities are recognised internationally and the Minerals team has extensive experience in the measurement of radioactivity from a wide variety of matrices. Our primary radoianalytical techniques include gamma spectrometry, alpha spectrometry, delayed neutron activation (DNA) analysis and neutron activation analysis (NAA).
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Rare Earth Processing

Rare Earth Processing
Several of our team are recognised globally as experts in the processing of rare earths. We have extensive process development, piloting and process consulting experience for projects in Australia and across the world. Our expertise includes all the major rare earth minerals such as monazite, bastnasite and xenotime, as well as from less frequently exploited rare earth sources such as apatite, ionic clays and complex ores containing zirconium / niobium silicates.
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Solvent Extraction

Solvent Extraction
Our team is an industry leader in the application of solvent extraction for the purification of metals such as uranium, rare earths, base metals and zirconium / niobium / hafnium, with clients and projects spanning six continents over almost four decades. Our experience includes everything from process development, piloting, operational support, due diligence and importantly modelling of circuit setup and performance.
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Uranium Processing

Uranium Processing
We are the leading process development facility in Australia for the leaching and processing of uranium ores. ANSTO and has been active in the development and application of technology for the uranium industry for over 40 years, covering all facets of the uranium flowsheet, and working for all of Australia’s past and current operating sites.
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Projects

Minerals consultancy world map

The Minerals business unit has world-leading expertise in uranium ore processing, rare earth processing, zirconium/niobium/hafnium processing, base metals processing, lithium processing (brines and hardrock), radioactivity control and management, and novel flowsheet design.

We work with mining companies in Australia and around the world to design novel flowsheets and improve established processes. In addition to our process development work, site work, including surveys, audits and plant trials, has been an important feature of our involvement with industry. Involvement with our clients operations has continued to be an important conduit for transferring the results of our process development studies to industry. The work conducted at ANSTO has directly supported numerous NI 43-101 reports, and numerous preliminary, definitive and bankable feasibility studies.

 

Facilities and Capabilities

The Minerals business unit has extensive laboratory and piloting facilities to support our client projects including:

  • Sample receipt and preparation facility
  • Modern hydrometallurgical laboratories including cyanide leaching laboratory
  • Autoclave laboratory – multiple materials of construction options, up to 2 L scale
  • High engineering bay to house tall columns
  • Dedicated solvent extraction separation facility – mixer-settler and pulsed columns
  • Extensive ion exchange equipment – laboratory and pilot scale, fixed bed and RIP
  • Nanofiltration / membrane equipment – laboratory and pilot scale
  • Directly and indirectly heated rotary kilns – up to 100 kg/h
  • Pilot plant facilities
  • Demonstration plant facilities including bunded hardstand area
  • Extensive sample storage area

All our facilities are ARPANSA and ASNO licensed to handle radioactive materials.

Furnace minerals

Our unit also has a dedicated suite of in-house analytical instruments to support our client projects. These analytical facilities can be operated as needed in order to meet project requirements, including 24/7 coverage during pilot plant trials. The range of analytical techniques available includes:

  • Mineralogy – QEMSCAN / XRD / TEM
  • Solids assay – XRF, digest ICP, LECO, TGA-DSC, DNA and NAA
  • Liquor assay – XRF, ICP-MS, ICP-OES and ISE,
  • α, β and γ spectrometry

A full description of our Analytical facilities and support they offer our clients is outlined below:

Analytical facility

Analytical facility
The Minerals Analytical Facility conducts a range of analyses required to support our commercial projects, and can analyse everything from simple samples to complex matrices not typically dealt with by standard commercial laboratories
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Mineralogy

Mineralogy
Our dedicated mineralogists provide specialised knowledge on the mineralogy of ores/concentrates and the wide variety of solids and residues typically generated in hydromet processes. We have well-equipped facilities that can handle a diverse range of samples, particularly those containing elevated concentrations of uranium and thorium.
Learn more

Radioanalytical

Radioanalytical
ANSTO’s radioanalytical facilities are recognised internationally and the Minerals team has extensive experience in the measurement of radioactivity from a wide variety of matrices. Our primary radoianalytical techniques include gamma spectrometry, alpha spectrometry, delayed neutron activation (DNA) analysis and neutron activation analysis (NAA).
Learn more

 

Research and Development

Minerals applied research

Our industry-focused Minerals research group carries out fundamental research uniquely applied to industrial problems in the areas of uranium, rare earth and lithium processing. Our research is targeted at improving our understanding of the processes that are the core of our client's businesses. It is the close interaction of our researchers with our scientists and engineers working in industry sponsored projects that provides an ideal environment for innovation, where everyone benefits.

ANSTO’s national research facilities also provide access to a wide range of advanced analytical techniques not typically available or considered for research in the mining and mineral processing sectors.

We encourage collaborative agreements with the university sector and support the next generation of researchers through our Year In Industry program, our support of Honours and PhD students, and new graduates.

A selection of our published and presented research is outlined below. Please feel free to contact Karin Soldenhoff our Technology Manager to discuss the application of our know-how and technologies to your project.

Our key research areas include:

  • Developing alternative technologies that allow for processing of uranium from saline liquors
  • Developing alternative technology for uranium recovery as a by-product of phosphoric acid production
  • Application of modelling techniques for selected uranium and rare earth unit operations such as heap leaching, ion exchange and solvent extraction
  • Understanding the impact of complex rare earth mineralogy on rare earth processing routes
  • The study of zirconium and niobium speciation in sulphate media
  • Examining the potential of ion exchange for rare earth recovery
  • Investigating the potential for synergistic reagents in rare earth solvent extraction circuits
  • Mapping the deportment of the radionuclides Th-232, U-238 and U-235 chains in rare earth processes
  • Investigating the relatives rates of dissolution of different uranium minerals in carbonate leaching, and the impact of the key variables such oxidant

News

Keep up to date with the latest news relating to how the Minerals team have contributed to our client’s projects, plus our industry and research presentations.

Highlights

  • ANSTO success in latest CRC-P Round 8 funding

    ANSTO success in latest CRC-P Round 8 funding

    ANSTO is contributing to a number of critical minerals projects that will be funded under the Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-Ps) Program – Round 8. Minerals' will be working with Lithium Australia NL on further development of the LiENa technology for conversion of waste spodumene, and with Australian Vanadium Ltd on high purity vanadium oxide production.

    The Minerals group will be contributing key hydrometallurgical process development expertise and piloting facilities to these successful grant programs, and is well suited to our extensive experience in critical minerals processing.

    “We look forward to being a part of generating innovative solutions as part of these programs” said Rob Gee, Minerals' General Manager.

    For further information on the projects, go to the Lithium Australia  NL and Australian Vanadium Ltd ASX announcements.

    Find out more
  • ANSTO review of rare earth sulfation baking process

    ANSTO review of rare earth sulfation baking process

    A comprehensive review of the sulfuric acid bake, an extraction process currently accounting for more than half of the world’s rare earth production, has recently been published by ANSTO in collaboration with Murdoch University.

    Find out more
  • Lithium Australia NL Continuing Technology Development and Battery Production Effort

    Lithium Australia NL Continuing Technology Development and Battery Production Effort

    One of ANSTO's longstanding clients in the lithium processing space, Lithium Australia NL, has secured a strategic deal with a leading Chinese battery producer DLG Battery Co. Ltd to commercialise cathode powders produced by LIT's wholly owned subsidiary VSPC. The partnership, known as Soluna Australia, will distrubute power management systems in Australia. Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) formats will feature in their range. ANSTO has been working with LIT to develop processes for the production of lithium phosphate (a precursor for LFP batteries) from micas, spodumene and other lithium waste streams. Using the technology owned by VSPC, lithium phosphate from piloting at ANSTO has been converted into LFP cathode powders displaying exceptional performance in comparison to existing LFP cathode materials.

    Find out more
  • ANSTO Completes Optimisation Testwork for Boss Resources

    ANSTO Completes Optimisation Testwork for Boss Resources

    The Minerals team recently completed a successful optimisation testwork program for Boss Resources Ltd, as part of the re-start strategy for their Honeynoon Uranium Project in South Australia. A "step-change in the elution process" was achieved using a method developed by ANSTO.

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Contact

Our team is available to discuss commercial projects, consultancy, research or any other areas of our business that you might be interested in. Feel free to contact any one of the team members directly or email our group via mineralsenquiries@ansto.gov.au

Minerals Management team

General Manager

Business Development Manager

Principal Consultant