The baton handover from 2000-year-old fire assaying to modern rock X-raying in precious metal labs around the world is not going to happen overnight, but nor is it likely to drag on. Chrysos Corporation CEO Dirk Treasure is hoping the historic shift might take as little as a decade.
Speaking on a recent Australian Securities Exchange webcast for small-to-mid-cap companies, Treasure said if another potential market disruptor emerged in the “next 10 or 20 years”, he was hoping the market incumbent would be Chrysos’ PhotonAssay method rather than fire assay.
Developed by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, in 2001, PhotonAssay is a chemical-free, non‑destructive technology that can provide accurate analysis of precious metal concentrations in minutes.
Chrysos estimates about 610 onsite (suitable-size mines/operations) and offsite (generally laboratory testing services) labs are fire assaying for gold. Or were: it now has more than 10 PhotonAssay machines delivered and about 50, in total, ordered.
A base-case 610 PhotonAssay units will cost more than A$2.2 billion to build, using Chrysos’ numbers. The company is manufacturing and leasing units under long-term contracts. These numbers point to circa-$1.3 billion a year of revenue, at 70% utilisation levels.