A team of CSIRO Future Manufacturing Flagship scientists has won a major mining industry award for the invention of the highly sensitive magnetic field sensor, the technology that powers the LANDTEM mining exploration tool.


The LANDTEM is a portable exploration tool that uses highly sensitive magnetic sensors known as SQUIDs (Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices) to differentiate the ore from other conductive material.


Led by Dr Cathy Foley and Keith Leslie, the team won the 2010 Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Mineral Industry Operating Technique Award (MIOTA) for discovering the method for making the sensor using a high-temperature superconductor.


Dr Foley led the initial development and commercialisation of LANDTEM in collaboration with BHP Billiton and the then Canadian mining company, Falconbridge.


“LANDTEM represents a major innovation in our ability to unearth mineral deposits worth hundreds of millions of dollars – deposits which may have been missed without this technology,” Dr Foley said.


LANDTEM has since been licensed to Australian startup company, Outer-Rim Exploration Services.  In the past eight years, ten LANDTEM systems have been built and deployed successfully on four continents to help unearth mineral deposits worth around $6 billion.

Outer-Rim’s General Manager, Andrew Carpenter, said the LANDTEM system is an important aid to finding very conductive mineralisation in complex geological environments.


“It can detect deeply buried, highly conductive massive sulphides, such as nickel, while being able to effectively minimise the response from conductive cover and formational conductors,” Mr Carpenter said.