A Government-funded research institute aimed at finding ways of using New Zealand minerals has been advanced on the West Coast.
The Press newspaper reported that the Greymouth-based New Zealand Institute for Minerals to Materials Research will administer $11 million of Government funding for minerals research.
Linked to this development was the interest shown at the 2017 AusIMM New Zealand Mining Conference in Christchurch when the NZ Institute of Minerals to Materials Research (NZIMMR) was outlined, with the concept of it being based on the West Coast.
The concept was to undertake research that would lead to minerals being upgraded for modern technology use, and among the minerals detailed at the Christchurch conference were rare earths, lithium and graphite.
At the Christchurch event, Alan Broome of CRL Energy outlined that funding for the concept was provided by the Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment.
Since that funding under a National Government in mid-2017, the new coalition Government has supported the concept and has also put added funds into the polytechnic services, which were short on funds.
This new institute now has recruited a chief executive, Tony Hogg, and the Press says it was also looking for a chief research officer and four researchers.
The institute aims to reposition the mining sector to convert minerals into higher-value advanced products.
The Press said Hogg, a West Coaster, has worked in the international research, development and commercialisation field as energy controls group CEO and general manager of Pipetec.
Hogg said the institute's first research areas would be into the use of rare earth elements in materials such as magnets and lasers, of tungsten extraction from old gold mining waste material and of creating carbon foams out of coal.
“I'm getting around talking to industry groups, mining operators, research organisations,” he reportedly said.
He said mine tailings containing tungsten could be reworked.
“There's already significant tailings that they've done research on and found there's tungsten available in economic quantities to recover it's just getting the technology to get the product extracted.”
(As NZResources reported from the Christchurch conference the institute may want to also talk to OceanaGold Corporation (TSX & ASX: OGC) about its studies on recovering tungsten from its gold mining operations at Macraes).
Hogg told The Press that the new Government’s proposed ban on new mines on Conservation land could prove positive for the institute.
“Maybe it's a great opportunity for NZIMMR to be here right now to look for ways to move current minerals extraction up the value chain. If new land is going to be opened up or access is going to be denied then you have to look at what more you can get out of your current mining operations."
He anticipated the institute would be self-sustainable by then.
Institute directors include Craig Richardson, of Auckland; former Tahoroa Ironsands director Derek Charge; Colin Dawson, Australian-based Julian Fairfield, and Kokatahi-based chairwoman Raelyn Lourie.
Dr Claire McGowan is also on the board.
Source: stuff.co.nz/press.co.nz; nzresources.com