Three world-leading scientists from The University of Western Australia have joined a global first scientific Cluster to assist industry in accelerating the search for new minerals to keep up with rising demand for Australian metals.
The CSIRO Organic Geochemistry of Mineral Systems Cluster was launched recently to bring geochemistry researchers together from across the globe to investigate the organic and inorganic geochemistry of minerals.
The scientists are internationally recognised in different geochemical disciplines and the Cluster will draw on complementary capability from UWA, CSIRO, Curtin University, The University of Melbourne and The Australian National University.
Scientists will use their expertise, local mineral system knowledge and the latest technologies to assist industry in unearthing new mineral deposits and help develop cost-effective exploration tools.
Energy and Minerals Director Tim Shanahan said that this unique scientific Cluster provided an exciting opportunity for Australia to gain national and international exposure to the capability that exists at UWA for solving industry challenges in exploration.
"We have the skills in Australia to solve industry's key challenges and CSIRO is recognising that there is world-class talent and advanced facilities here at UWA and at other Australian research institutions that can work together to deliver results," he said.
Experienced in cross-disciplinary research, the UWA scientists involved in the Cluster contribute to an exceptional team and make important contributions to the three project themes. The UWA team consists of:
- The Premier's Research Fellow UWA Oceans Institute, Winthrop Professor Malcolm McCulloch, who is a world leader in the development and application of innovative geochemical approaches.
- Senior Research Fellow West Australian Biogeochemistry Centre, Dr Paul Greenwood, who is leading Theme 1 "Laboratory experiments on organic and inorganic systems" for predictive modelling work to guide exploration.
- The Centre for Exploration Targeting Director and Mineral Geologist, Professor Campbell McCuaig, who is leading Theme 2 "Field Studies" which will focus on the ore system interaction of organic and inorganic materials to assist the predictive targeting of other Australian mineral deposits.
Dr Greenwood emphasised that UWA will use existing in-house state-of-the-art geochemical facilities as well as develop new and complementary analytical technology, which will include the world's second compound-specific sulphur isotope facility - making use of the first multi-collector plasma mass spectrometers to be installed in WA.
"By participating in the Cluster, UWA is positioning itself to build on our strengths and capitalise on growth in this area, while the collaboration will ensure our findings are circulated widely and our relationships in the geochemical field will be richer.
"This new sub-division of research will enhance Australia's position as an international leader in geochemical research, supporting the discovery and use of our mineral resources which are in abundance and in global demand," he commented.
The Cluster would work closely with CSIRO's Minerals Down Under National Research Flagship which uses multi-disciplinary global expertise to transform the Australian minerals industry with revolutionary new technologies to solve technical challenges.
The CSIRO Mineral Systems Cluster is supported by a combined $3million in funds from the CSIRO National Research Flagships Collaboration Fund and a matching $3 million in-kind contribution from the University partners.
Caption: The new generation "multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometers" (MC-ICPMS) are part of the UWA Geochemical Facility for Indian Ocean Research and are complemented with a new laser system for direct analysis of solid samples, such as tiny single mineral grains and tiny microfossils. Pictured are scientists, (front) Professor Campbell McCuaig, Dr Paul Greenwood and Winthrop Professor Malcolm McCulloch (back) with the MC-ICPMS.