A new development from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) could significantly reduce copper waste.
CSIRO describes it as a new type of ore sorting solution that uses magnetic resonance technology to scan and analyse ore-grade copper material from waste rock.
The analyser illuminates ore batches with short-pulse radio waves that can penetrate copper ores, in a process similar to a medical MRI scan. The depth of scanning goes beyond the surface of the ore, providing more reliable results than were previously possible.
By effectively sorting ore from waste before the processing stage, energy can be saved by reducing the required electricity and water needed for processing. This could also produce up to 20 per cent reduction in processing costs in some copper mines.
The analyser is to be supplied internationally through company NextOre, developed by CSIRO in association with RFC Ambrian and Advisian Digital. Canada and South America will be the primary territories for its first year on the market.
“Bringing the analyser to market through NextOre opens up the opportunity to transform the global copper industry and reduce its environmental footprint,” said CSIRO research director Nick Cutmore.
“NextOre has identified 59 mature copper mine sites where the analyser could be applied to extend their life, capturing 35 per cent of global copper production.
“The solution could also enable undeveloped, low-grade mines to be brought into production, so the economic benefits are huge.”
NextOre chief executive officer Chris Beal said the company was providing technical and engineering advice to move from concept to site trials and final implementation.