A Curtin University-developed technology that enhances the gold extraction process has been recognised for its game-changing potential, making it to the global market after the sale of company Mining and Process Solutions (MPS).
MPS, which worked with Curtin to commercialise the leaching technology for extraction of minerals including gold, copper, cobalt and nickel, was bought by Czech multinational chemical supplier Draslovka.
The technology uses amino acids such as glycine to leach ores including gold and copper, as well as nickel and cobalt, which are increasingly relevant as critical minerals for the battery industry.
Curtin University Director of Commercialisation Rohan McDougall said it was pleasing the innovative new technology had received the necessary funding boost to bring it to market.
Curtin researchers spent years developing this improved leaching process, expanding the technology’s applications and making it more efficient for extracting gold and other valuable deposits,” Mr McDougall said.
“Now that it has made it to the global market, this technology will offer many benefits to resource industries, including being a much more efficient, safe and environmentally-friendly extraction method.
“It is fantastic that Curtin’s work over many years with minerals industry partner Mining and Process Solutions to commercialise the new process has culminated in the technology going global, thereby bringing its benefits to industry world-wide.”
Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran said the achievement was down to both the successful commercialisation of the technology and the high calibre, real worldfocussed research that led to its development.
“Leaching or separating gold and other precious metals from an ore deposit or other materials has long depended on cyanide as a key ingredient, which is a highly toxic chemical compound, which when mishandled can have a harmful effect on the environment and our health,”
Professor Moran said. “Curtin researchers developed a glycine leaching technology, which they have optimised to enable extraction of a range of base metals including critical battery minerals nickel and cobalt for renewable energy storage.
“That this research has translated into a fully commercialised and highly-prized technology now on the global market and set to bring benefits to industries around the world is exactly the kind of ‘big picture’ ambition frequently realised at Curtin.”
In 2017, Curtin exclusively licensed its suite of glycine leaching technologies to MPS, which was to onlicense the technology to mining companies for a payment, a proportion of which would go to Curtin as a royalty.
MPS shareholders recently signed a share sale agreement to sell 100% of the company to the Czech multinational chemical supplier Draslovka through its mining services division, formerly part of Chemours.
As part of the transaction, Curtin terminated its license agreement and assigned ownership of the intellectual property to MPS, briefly becoming a shareholder before selling its stake to Draslovka.