JKMRC turns up the heat on metals processing research

The Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC), part of the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) at Australia's University of Queensland, launched the High Temperature Processing Research group that will focus on mineral processing.
JKMRC turns up the heat on metals processing research JKMRC turns up the heat on metals processing research JKMRC turns up the heat on metals processing research JKMRC turns up the heat on metals processing research JKMRC turns up the heat on metals processing research

The group will be studying thermodynamics and the “phase equilibria” of metallurgical slags

The new research group, which will be led by Dr Baojun Zhao, has been established to develop more efficient and energy-saving methods of processing ferrous and non-ferrous metals, according to the JKMRC.

"High-temperature processing is essentially the final step in the mineral processing value chain, we work with the ore after it's been refined through comminution, sizing, concentration and dewatering - areas where JKMRC research is having an impact," Dr Zhao told the SMI newsletter.

"Those advancements directly affect our work, whether that is helping a company understand the reactions inside their furnaces or designing new processes and working with industry to implement them."

Example areas of focus for the group will include developing alternative routes to utilising low-grade and complex ores, or recycling of valuable metals from secondary resources.

To achieve this, it will be studying thermodynamics and the "phase equilibria" of metallurgical slags, or the equilibrium which exists between or within different states of matter. It will also explore the physicochemical properties of metallurgical slags and the kinetics of slag-metal-refractory systems.

"High-temperature processing is an important part of the mineral processing value chain and needs to be part of any conversations on making the minerals industry more sustainable," said SMI director Professor Neville Plint.

"Dr Zhao and his team will add an important dimension to SMI and to JKMRC specifically. The team has a proven track-record through research outputs and real-world results and I look forward to working with them."

The SMI statement notes that Dr Zhao and his team have worked with companies including Rio Tinto, Codelco, Baosteel, Hebei Iron and Steel, Shougang, Panzhihua Iron and Steel and Shandong Fangyuan Nonferrous Metals Group, and they have developed over 20 research projects that are supported by industry and the Australian Research Council.