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How to Make Copper Mines Emission Free

The Zero Emission Copper Mine of the Future by University of Sydney’s Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering sets out how Australian copper mining can become emission free over the next 30 years through the use of emerging technologies.

  • A world first study Zero Emission Copper Mine of the Future lays out how Australian copper mining can be greener, cleaner & smarter using emerging technologies.
  • Study identifies 5 targets for action-exploration, movement of materials, ventilation, processing, and use of water-in partnership with industry and government.
  • Copper represents 2% of Australian exports but will grow as productivity and brand reputation improves, but costs fall, in partnership with high tech and clean energy industries.

The ‘world first’ roadmap commissioned by the International Copper Association Australia-ICAA-identifies five key target areas for technological innovation to reduce and ultimately eliminate mining emissions: exploration, movement of materials, ventilation, processing, and water use.

The range of technologies is vast. It includes autonomous drones & robot machinery, next generation sensors, Mixed Reality, wearable tech, in-situ ore recovery, novel leaching processes and on demand ventilation to name a few.

Achieving cutting edge innovation and high tech disruption will also depend on collaboration across five strategic levers: policy & programs, industry networks, capital enablers, future knowledge and an open mindset.

“The resources sector, and copper mining in particular, faces big challenges-falling ore quality, fewer new deposits and much tougher licence to operate rules”, John Fennell, ICAA CEO, said. “But we need to do things differently going forward.”

A zero emission copper mine of the future will be significantly different from the current copper mining system and will require fundamental changes in how energy is consumed, sourced and abated,” Director of the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering, Ashley Brinson, said.

“’Moonshottype thinking is needed to shape the aspirations and imagination of the industry towards adopting a zero emissions approach,” Mr Brinson added.

Mr Fennell said this is the first of three blueprints or horizon reports over three years designed to clarify the vision, establish viable technologies, create an innovation culture, and bring the industry together.


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