GLOBAL chemical giant BASF has opened a new research and development centre at the CSIRO’s Australian Minerals Research Centre in Perth, WA.
The increase in funding for mining related chemicals research marks a shift in focus for the company as it looks to capitalise on the booming resource market in Australia and New Zealand.
As part of a long term lease agreement signed with the CSIRO last year, scientists at the centre will study mineral processing technology, looking at topics including advanced rheology modifiers for improved thickening processes for valuables and tailings, and the modification of the crystallisation process in alumina production.
BASF vice chairman Dr Martin Brudermueller said the research would also focus on energy efficiency and water recycling.
“Chemistry is a key enabler to making tomorrow’s mining industry more sustainable,” Dr Brudermeuller said.
“With the latest advances in mining solutions research, BASF aims to help mining operations to minimise water consumption, maximise recovery, reduce land areas consumed by tailings disposal and minimise the cost and time required to rehab sites.”
BASF will initially have a team of six researchers at the centre, increasing to 20 team member by 2017.
BASF head of global oilfield and mining solutions Dr Steffen Kudis said he believed mining companies would need be adaptable to changing conditions, with research critical to keeping the production process viable.
“High quality ores are becoming depleted and new mines are often in hostile locations while environmental, health and safety regulations are becoming more stringent,” he said.
“BASF aims to help the industry face these challenges with solutions across our customers’ value chain.
“This new research and development centre will further develop our expertise in areas which are crucial to meeting future needs.”
With sales of about EUR73.5 billion in 2011 and more than 111,000 employees around the world, BASF is the world’s largest diversified chemical company.