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ChemCentre expert setting the Standard

ChemCentre expert setting the Standard

Date Published: 27-Sep-17

Internationally recognised as an expert in cyanide chemistry and leaching, ChemCentre’s Dr Silvia Black is this month visiting Seoul, South Korea to attend a peak scientific standards body, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)* meeting.

Australia is the second largest producer of gold in the world, with Western Australia producing 60% of the national total.

Used in the extraction of gold is the potentially deadly chemical, cyanide, which makes management of its use and the assessment and monitoring of any potential or real environmental impact vitally important to both industry and government regulatory authorities.

 “It is essential for Australian companies that ISO cyanide analysis standards are fit for purpose in Australian conditions and industry,” Dr Black said.

“And it is important for Australia to have input into international standards and to ensure that they are aligned with our national requirements, given the many global companies that operate in Australia.

“The meeting also provides a valuable opportunity to network with international experts and build future collaborations with research organisations and industries across the world.

“My involvement with Standards Australia and ISO is primarily through my work on cyanide sampling and testing.

“As well as chairing the Water Quality Committee, I’m a member of the Soil Quality Committee and act as a liaison between the two, along with leading the Australian delegation in its dealings with ISO on water testing.”

Dr Black, also uses her expertise, enhanced by her ISO involvement, to run courses on cyanide chemistry with CSIRO for WA gold industry partners.

Additionally, her participation in development of ISO leaching standards is directly related to ChemCentre’s increasing involvement with the Leaching Environmental Assessment Framework (LEAF).

LEAF combines geochemical modelling and laboratory-based tests to help understand how industrial waste and by-products will behave in the environment in the long term, and can lead to more informed decisions regarding how best to manage these.

Dr Black is the leading Australian authority on the application of the LEAF tools to test and assess the environmental impact of using waste-derived materials and by-products in soil amendment, roadbed construction and building.

These tests are now the standard set for the European Union and the USA. Dr Black is leading ChemCentre’s initiative to authenticate and tailor LEAF tests to the Australian environment and to offer these tests to government and industry.
“For example, LEAF tests are now part of the Department of Environment’s guidelines for reuse of waste from mining operations.”

*The ISO is an independent not-for-profit, non-governmental international organisation with a membership of 161 national standards bodies.

Standards Australia, as Australia’s representative on ISO, plays a key and strategic role in developing international standards for quality assurance methods that are adopted by industry and research organisations in Australia and worldwide.

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