Recovery/development of low grade copper ore

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In summary, Jetti Resources has developed a technology to extract copper from sulfide ores that is too low in copper content to be economically processed via either route. The process is being offered to smaller mining companies in which Rio invests.
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(Bloomberg) -- The warnings keep getting louder: the world is hurtling toward a desperate shortage of copper. Humans are more dependent than ever on a metal we’ve used for 10,000 years; new deposits are drying up, and the type of breakthrough technologies that transformed other commodities have failed to materialize for copper.

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/copper-biggest-mystery-finally-cracking-000007509.html

Of course, commodities like copper are cyclical.

In what could prove a game changer for global supply, a US startup says it’s solved a puzzle that has frustrated the mining world for decades. If successful, the discovery by Jetti Resources could unlock millions of tons of new copper

At its simplest, Jetti’s technology is focused on a common type of ore that traps copper behind a thin film, making it too costly and difficult to extract. The result is that vast quantities of metal have been left stranded over the decades in mine-waste piles on the surface, as well as in untapped deposits. To crack the code, Jetti has developed a specialized catalyst to disrupt the layer, allowing rock-eating microbes to go to work at releasing the trapped copper.

BHP Group, the biggest mining company, is already an investor and has now spent months negotiating for a trial plant at its crown jewel copper mine, Escondida in Chile, according to people familiar with the matter. US miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc. began implementing Jetti’s technology at an Arizona mine this year, while rival Rio Tinto Group is planning to roll out a competing but similar process.

new discoveries in copper are increasingly unlikely, given the long history of mining – evidence of copper usage has been traced back to at least 8,000 BC in what is now Turkey and Iraq. That means most of the world’s great deposits have already been found and exploited; more than half the world’s 20 biggest copper mines were discovered more than a century ago.

Over the past decade alone, an estimated 43 million tons of copper have been mined but never processed, worth more than $2 trillion at current prices, creating huge opportunities for anyone who can successfully recover those riches.

Extractive metallurgy is still a hot topic.

There are two main kinds of copper-bearing rock. The most common type, sulfide ores, are typically crushed, concentrated, and then turned into pure copper in a fire-refining process. But that method isn't suitable for oxidic ores, and the industry's last big innovation came in the mid-1980s when it adapted an electro-chemical process to extract copper from oxide ores, providing a major boost to supply.

Now, Jetti aims to apply its technology to recover copper from a common type of sulfide ore that couldn’t be economically processed via either route — the copper content is too low to justify the cost of refining, while the hard, non-reactive coating prevented the copper from being extracted in the lower-cost electro-chemical or "leaching" process.

Jetti worked with the University of British Columbia to develop a chemical catalyst that breaks through the layer, so that the copper can be released using leaching without the need for high temperatures.

Rio Tinto has a similar process, Nuton, which is being offered to smaller mining companies in which Rio invests; if the smaller firms successfully develop their mining projects, then Rio will deploy the Nuton process to boost profitability.
 
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I need some copper for magnet coils. The bosses complained, so I asked them to use silver instead. :wink:
 
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Related to Recovery/development of low grade copper ore

1. What is the process for recovering low grade copper ore?

The process for recovering low grade copper ore typically involves a series of steps, including crushing, grinding, and froth flotation. First, the ore is crushed into small pieces and then ground into a fine powder. This powder is then mixed with water and chemicals to create a slurry. The slurry is then passed through a series of tanks where air is blown through it, causing the copper minerals to attach to bubbles and rise to the surface. These bubbles are then collected and separated, resulting in a concentrated copper solution that can be further processed.

2. How does the grade of copper ore affect the recovery process?

The grade of copper ore refers to the percentage of copper present in the ore. Low grade copper ore typically contains less than 1% copper, while high grade ore can contain up to 5% or more. The lower the grade of the ore, the more difficult it is to recover the copper. This is because there is less copper present in the ore to begin with, making it harder to separate and concentrate during the recovery process.

3. What are the main challenges in recovering low grade copper ore?

The main challenges in recovering low grade copper ore include the cost of processing and the environmental impact. The process of recovering copper from low grade ore can be expensive, as it requires a lot of energy and resources. Additionally, the chemicals used in the process can have negative effects on the environment if not properly managed. Another challenge is the low yield of copper from low grade ore, which means that a large amount of ore must be processed to obtain a usable amount of copper.

4. Are there any new technologies being developed for the recovery of low grade copper ore?

Yes, there are several new technologies being developed for the recovery of low grade copper ore. One promising method is bioleaching, which uses microorganisms to extract copper from low grade ore. This method is more environmentally friendly and can be more cost-effective than traditional methods. Another technology is sensor-based ore sorting, which uses sensors to identify and separate high grade ore from low grade ore, reducing the amount of waste that needs to be processed.

5. What are the potential uses for recovered copper from low grade ore?

The recovered copper from low grade ore can be used for a variety of purposes, including electrical wiring, plumbing, and industrial machinery. It can also be used in the production of coins, jewelry, and other decorative items. Additionally, copper has antimicrobial properties and is used in medical equipment and devices. The demand for copper is expected to continue to grow, making the recovery of low grade ore an important process in meeting global demand.

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