New critical minerals extraction technology to be showcased at University of Newcastle symposium this week – Newcastle Herald

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A global delegation of minerals sustainability experts will visit the University of Newcastle this week to discuss a ‘game changing’ technology that is tipped to have significant implications for the extraction of critical minerals.
Laureate Professor Kevin Galvin developed the ‘REFLUX┬« Flotation Cell’ in collaboration with engineering company FLSmidth.
The device significantly improves mineral separation methods, many of which have remained unchanged for more than 50 years.
The technology reduces the environmental footprint of the minerals processing stage where critical minerals are separated from the surrounding ore, known as ‘beneficiation’.
It can extract microscopic mineral particles that were not previously able to be effectively recovered during processing and therefore treated as waste.
Using less energy and producing less waste, it is faster at recovering more minerals than previous methods.
Recovery of increased amounts of minerals is vital to allow the industry to meet anticipated future demand for critical minerals, needed for clean energy, medical and mobile devices.
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The technology also has the potential to recover mineral particles that are currently treated as waste and tailings.
By shifting to newer methods, industry may be able to reduce its reliance on existing tailings storage facilities in the future.
Professor Galvin, who also heads the university’s Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient beneficiation of Minerals, said the industry would play a key role in helping reduce emissions.
“The international interest we’re seeing from global sustainability leaders indicates the minerals sector is ready to adapt and evolve,” he said.
The university will host delegates from 14 organisations and eight nations as part of the four-day symposium that will focus on sustainable solutions to improving minerals processing.
In addition to witnessing the REFLUX Flotation Cell in operation, delegates will also discuss the latest research in minerals processing with the university’s critical minerals team.
FLSmidth global product line manager, Lance Christodoulou said the REFLUX Flotation Cell would not only offer faster recovery of valuable minerals but enhanced product grades.
“Events like this help us spread the word about the benefits for industry adoption. As such, the event marks a pivot-point for industry adoption for the new technology, now having moved through research and discovery, design and concept, prototype technology and on-site trial stages.”
The science behind the RFC technology is drawn from the research insights of multiple researchers and universities.

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Matthew Kelly has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years. He has been working as a general reporter at the Newcastle Herald since 2018. In recent years he has reported on subjects including environment, energy, water security, manufacturing and higher education. He has previously covered issues including the health and environmental impacts of uncovered coal wagons in the Hunter Valley, the pollution of legacy of former industrial sites and freedom of information issues.
Matthew Kelly has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years. He has been working as a general reporter at the Newcastle Herald since 2018. In recent years he has reported on subjects including environment, energy, water security, manufacturing and higher education. He has previously covered issues including the health and environmental impacts of uncovered coal wagons in the Hunter Valley, the pollution of legacy of former industrial sites and freedom of information issues.
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