From ore to more

CSIRO works closely with industry to ensure cost-effective production and processing of hematite/goethite and magnetite ores.

CSIRO works closely with industry to ensure cost-effective production and processing of hematite/goethite and magnetite ores.

Our research delivers greater understanding of the mineralogy and processing characteristics of these ores plus development of energy-efficient grinding methods, crucial to the industry’s future sustainability.


The Geometallurgy team of experienced process mineralogists, petrologists, metallurgists and process engineers offer expertise in ore characterisation and beneficiation, including:

  • computer-based optical image analysis to characterise ores on the basis of mineralogy and textural qualifiers to improve the predictability of ore performance
  • development of iron ore classification schemes for transfer to industry
  • identifying the form and distribution of impurities, including phosphorus, alumina and silica
  • comminution and physical/magnetic separation processes
  • predicting process performance from ore characteristics to increase the productivity of Australian ores in a global marketplace.

Ultrasonic Treatment of Iron Ore Fines

Ultrasonic treatment of pulps containing iron ore fines can assist in the removal of impurities to improve iron grade. This treatment can be used to remove ultrafine material from lower grade ores and to clean the surfaces of gangue particles to increase floatability during reverse flotation processes.

Mineral 4/Recognition 4 Optical Image Analysis System

An advanced optical image analysis system developed by CSIRO and widely used in industry and research for accurate and comprehensive automated identification and characterisation of minerals.

Leading the team, Dr Mark Pownceby

Dr Mark Pownceby is a Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO’s Mineral Resources Business Unit (Processing Program). Mark’s research expertise is in the field of solid state chemistry and mineralogy. He applies this expertise in research projects related to: the characterisation of bulk iron ores and their sintered products; beneficiation activities designed to remove impurities and upgrade iron ores, heavy mineral sands characterisation and processing; critical metals processing; mineralogy of uranium ores; recycling and sustainability; and experimental phase equilibria.

Mark fulfils the role of Team Leader (Iron Ore Geometallurgy) where his involvement in iron ore characterisation and processing extends to activities such as identifying and implementing emerging research trends in anticipation of economic and scientific change, providing an interpretative interface between analytical/physical chemistry groups and mineralogists, mentoring and co-supervising students and providing high level strategic input into transfer of generated knowledge.

Mark has authored and co-authored more than 200 technical papers in journals and conferences, one patent and more than 150 technical reports. He is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor at RMIT University and an Adjunct Professor at Swinburne University.

Pownceby, Dr Mark

Team Leader