CSIRO Staff association member David Miljak is a finalist in the Australian Innovation Challenge

David Miljak: Ore sensor

From: The Australian November 12

A MINERAL sensor invented by CSIRO physicist David Miljak and colleagues could boost copper production efficiency by more than 20 per cent.

The sensor can distinguish high-grade from low-grade ore quickly as tonnes of rock containing the copper mineral chalcopyrite passes along a conveyor belt from the mine. It promises to cut processing costs by enabling the rejection of batches of ore low in the mineral.

Read more about David’s invention and the Challenge, including how to vote for David! 

The sensor exploits the natural magnetic properties of chalcopyrite. The nuclei of copper atoms in the mineral act like tiny magnets, which tend to line up. “The sensor blasts half-tonne batches of the rock with a high-power radio-frequency pulse,” says Miljak. “This pushes the nuclei out of alignment.”

The nuclei relax to their original condition, emitting radio waves, the amplitude of which reveals the amount of chalcopyrite in the ore.

Vote for David in the challenge here

The $70,000 The Australian Innovation Challenge – inspire, invent, create

Brought to you by The Australian in association with Shell, and supported by the Commonwealth Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, the awards will help drive some of the nation’s best ideas to commercialisation or adoption.

You can enter whether you’re a professional scientist or engineer, or a creative genius inventing in your shed.

The awards have nine cash prizes. Seven professional categories, each carrying a prize of $5,000, cover everything from agriculture to astronomy. The overall winner will receive a further $25,000.

Read more about the Challenge here