Brock researchers, tech company, develop “green,” rapid testing technology for mining samples

A Brock University research group and a Mississauga company have developed technology that dramatically speeds up testing of ores and minerals while preserving

the environment. ColdBlock™ enables mining samples to be digested to measure the amounts of metal such as gold, silver or copper in as little as 15 minutes compared to up to 16 hours using conventional methods.

The new technology uses smaller quantities of acids, and eliminates or reduces the use of dangerous acids such as hydrofluoric and perchloric acids. “New discoveries, such as the Ring of Fire chromite deposit in northern Ontario, will benefit from the development of new, faster methods, such as the ColdBlock™ technology and associated chemistry to analyze samples from exploration and from mine development,” says lead researcher, Brock University chemist Ian Brindle. He says there is also the possibility that, with further development, this technology could be used on-site, rather than having to ship samples to far-away labs. The world’s leading gold mining company, Barrick Gold, has thrown its weight behind ColdBlock.™ Barrick Gold’s contributions include direct financial support for the research project, the use of their laboratories to share samples, exchanging ideas on improvements in the area of sample preparation, and sharing results of analyses using Coldblock™.

“We have seen some promising preliminary results with ColdBlock™ technology,” says Yeonuk Choi, a senior manager with Barrick Gold’s Strategic Technology Solutions. “We look forward to exploring with Brock improvements in delivering fast and accurate results for gold and other metals in the ores from our mines.” Brindle has a long and distinguished history of doing research on environmental issues across Canada, including landmark research into water contaminants in the Great Lakes region.

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