Western Australia’s Gold Technology Group is bridging the communication gap between university academics and industry professionals to advance Australia’s gold and precious metals industry.
As a research group, the Gold Technology Group delivers industry-relevant research and development as well as specialist training services. Based within Curtin University’s Western Australian School of Mines, Professor Bill Staunton is an Adjunct Professor with the Gold Technology Group:
“Our short-term research is about optimising current technologies used in gold mining. We’re very big on incremental improvement and optimisation of current technologies,” Adjunct Professor Staunton said.
“Our long-term research takes more of a ‘blue sky’ approach, looking into the distance. There are risks involved in this and it’s a little bit of crystal ball gazing but we’re looking for solutions to challenges the industry may face in a few years where we think the current technologies will not be sufficient to deal with ores the industry will need to treat at that time.
“We also focus on upskilling post-graduates and industry-experienced professionals with specialist and practical training to work primarily within the gold space. This training has been delivered globally, most often at operating sites,” he said.
Professor Jacques Eksteen is Director of the Gold Technology Group, which has a dozen individual members including senior academics, research fellows and former industry professionals who oversee research and development, consulting and commercial work, software development and specialist training. The Group also includes Masters PhD students.
The diversity of experience among the Gold Technology Group’s members combined with the collaborative approach to research and knowledge sharing is bridging the divide between academics and industry professionals.
“We’ve got a huge breadth of industry and academic experience, and particularly complimentary experience, across our members,” Adjunct Professor Staunton said.
“We’re a very effective collaboration group with our technology transfer program transiting across that university to industry gap and educating younger generations through the offer of post graduate opportunities.
“You can always get good academic people and there are always good industry people, but the trick is to get the mixture of academic knowledge and industry experience so that we can bridge that gap and make progress”.
This collaborative approach has enabled the Gold Technology Group to successfully manage the internationally renowned AMIRA Gold Processing Technology research project for the past 30 years, surviving three industry downturns in that time.
The AMIRA research projects are run in three-year cycles, delivering innovative solutions to support gold mining operations and address future industry challenges. The projects largely rely on industry funding including international sponsorship, as well as in-kind support offered by Curtin University.
From 2016 the Group will also be receiving significant funding from the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE). The next three-year phase of the project commences in June 2016, with new and existing sponsors currently being invited to participate in the new program.
“There are 14 industry sponsors for the current AMIRA project including gold producers and service companies,” Adjunct Professor Staunton said.
“The current budget is a smidge over $5 million for three years and in research terms, it is a fair chunk of money. The industry sponsors contribute $4M to the budget.
“We need to demonstrate value in the work we do for industry and it needs to reflect the industry’s needs and we’ve done this consistently for the past 30 years”.
The AMIRA project has a very high retention rate of sponsors with some of the current sponsors contributing to four or five previous iterations.
Research and development is primarily undertaken in Western Australia with the support of gold mining companies across the State including Gold Industry Group Founding Member Norton Gold Fields.
While the Gold Technology Group is based at Curtin University’s Bentley campus in Perth, the members also regularly interact with the academic departments and research centres across the Perth and Kalgoorlie campuses.
For more information on the Gold Technology Group visit here or contact Professor Jacques Eksteen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For more information on the AMIRA Gold Processing Technology Project and how to get involved, visit here.