The University of Adelaide has opened a new copper and uranium research hub.
The new centre is part of the state’s copper strategy, which seeks to seeks to grow the region’s copper output to one million tonnes per annum.
“The Directions Paper on the Copper Strategy seeks the views of industry, regional and Aboriginal communities, and other stakeholders on how we tackle some of the issues that could prevent South Australia from reaching its full potential as a copper producer,” SA mining minister Tom Koutsantonis said.
The Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium, based at the University, aims to “find new ways of removing other metals from copper deposits, which can reduce the quality of the copper; and ensure these new methods are suitable for industry-level operations,” the university stated.
“Much of South Australia's copper deposits are actually very fine intergrowths of a range of different metals and minerals. This introduces additional technical challenges for industry, which needs to achieve high-purity copper concentrates ready for market,” professor Stephen Grano, director of the new ARC Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium, explained.
“Being able to find cost-effective ways of removing other metals from copper concentrates will provide a boost to the industry's economic prosperity, as well as its environmental sustainability. This work will help to ensure Australia is a world leader in copper production and associated technology,” he said.
ARC provided $2.52 million in funding to establish the hub, with industry partners providing an additional $5.5 million in cash and support over the next five years.
These partners include BHP and OZ Minerals, the Department of State Development, Defence Science and Technology Group, Environment Protection Authority South Australia, Flinders University, Monash University, University College London (UCL) Australia, and the University of Queensland.
Koutsantonis welcomed the new research hub, which he said would provide a boost for one of South Australia’s most significant commodities.
“One of our key economic priorities is to unlock the full potential of our mineral resources, which is why the State Government is contributing $500,000 over four years towards the testing and commercialisation of safe and cost-effective ways of separating uranium from copper concentrates,” he said.
“As one of the world’s largest copper producers, maximising the value of copper ore is of enormous benefit to the State’s economy.”