X-Ray Technology Is Speeding Up the Search for Hidden Gold

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X-Ray Technology Is Speeding Up the Search for Hidden Gold

A breakthrough x-ray technology that can detect and analyze unseen gold is now up and running in Australia, the world’s second-biggest producer, with plans to take it to Africa.

The new technology, developed by Australia’s national science agency, uses high powered X-rays to bombard rock samples and activate atoms of gold and other metals. A highly sensitive detector picks up unique signatures to determine their concentrations.

The system is now operational at Ausdrill Ltd.’s analytical facility in Perth, with two more to be established in the Kalgoorlie goldfields in coming months, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or CSIRO, said Thursday in a statement. Ausdrill has longer-term plans to take the innovation to Africa.

The introduction of the new technology couldn’t be better timed. The producer-funded World Gold Council has estimated that world supply may have peaked, while Frank Holmes, chief executive officer of U.S. Global Investors Inc., said last month that mine supply topped out in 2017 or will do so this year.

The photon assay system will analyze at least 50,000 samples a month, at a similar cost to conventional methods, and can also be applied to a range of other minerals, including silver and copper, the statement showed. It’s a faster, safer and more environmentally-friendly alternative, it said.

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