Real-time 3D imaging of locked diamonds

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MinPET in 30 seconds

MinPET is a patented new technology under development at the University of Johannesburg, providing the first ever high-throughput 3D imaging of locked diamonds within kimberlite rocks up to 15cm in diameter.

All aspects of the technology have been demonstrated in the laboratory.

MinPET is a novel combination of two reliable, widely deployed and actively researched technologies:

  • Electron accelerators to activate rock
  • Medical PET scanners to image diamonds.

MinPET is commercially attractive

Large diamond hook

MinPET is financially feasible in some mines purely as a method to prevent the breakage of large stones mines during crushing.

Run of mine

If MinPET is configured to find all diamonds, it will eliminate the need to process 99% of incoming material, promising massive cost, environmental and land savings.

Other roles

MinPET can be deployed in other roles, including auditing diamond content in ore streams, re-processing tailings and drill core analysis in prospecting.

Diamond price trends

Long term diamond price trends are promising.

Interactive Map of Major Diamond Mines

The map on the right shows major diamond mines worldwide. Colour shows revenue ($ per year), and dot size shows diamond production (carats per year).

Mouse-over each mine for more details.

Data from Paul Zimnisky

MinPET works

MinPET repurposes established, reliable technology in an novel setting. This technology is constantly improving, making MinPET an ever more attractive option.

MinPET has significant advantages in activation efficiency and image creation over previous attempts to image diamonds.

MinPET is backed by compelling laboratory results, theoretical work and computer simulation.

CERN connections: We have leveraged our CERN partnership to create cutting edge, low cost PET detector electronics that reliably find diamond simulants.

MinPET is safe to operate, and does not measurably damage diamonds.

The MinPET technique

MinPET steps:

  1. Activate material with gamma beam
  2. Hold rock for 20 minutes in hopper
  3. Find diamonds between two planar PET detector arrays

Key team members

Dr. Martin Cook

Head of MinPET commercialisation for UJ

  • PhD (UJ), Applied Nuclear Physics, on MinPET.
  • Program manager, Honours/Masters course on nuclear energy, UJ
  • Past lead programmer, non-executive director, Thornhill Associates

Prof. Simon Connell

Principal Researcher

  • Professor, UJ
  • Past President of the South African Institute of Physics
  • Pioneered first involvement of South Africa in ATLAS (at CERN)
  • PhD, Nuclear Physics

Prof. Aart Boessenkool

Head: UJ Commercialisation and Tech. Transfer Office

  • Past Director / co-founder, UJ Dept. of Business Management
  • Past Independent Non-Executive Director of Orion Real Estate Ltd

Dr. Richard Andrew

Post-doctoral Researcher

  • Post Doctoral Fellow UJ
  • Post Doctoral Fellow UP
  • PhD, Physics (materials modelling)


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