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Next Step to Net Zero Copper Mining—Minerals Processing

A new Minerals Processing Roadmap lays out a vision for sustainable copper mining, the third in the International Copper Association Australia’s—ICAA—Roadmap to Zero Project following earlier reports on Water and Material Movement.

Launched today by the Hon. Courtney Houssos MLC, NSW Minister for Finance and Minister for Natural Resources, Minerals Processing is a unique collaboration between the resources sector, government, universities and the mining technology industry to reach net zero copper mining.

Copper is key to decarbonisation, helping to deliver clean energy and electrification that will double global demand for refined copper by 2050. Soaring demand brings new development and employment opportunities for Australian, state, territory and regional economies, but must be done sustainably in a climate critical world.

Minerals processing is the most energy intensive part of upstream copper production and can contribute significantly to a site’s emission profile. Minerals Processing identifies how mining companies, working in partnership with stakeholders, can embrace innovation using a ‘systems approach’ to speed collaboration, knowledge and impact.

The Roadmap identifies five mineral processing themes with accessible solutions for now and into the future. These include emerging novel processing solutions, digital and automation technologies like artificial intelligence, mixed realities or machine learning applied across comminution, concentration, extraction, or waste stream processes to better optimise ore liberation, enrichment, recovery, sustainability and asset performance.

Optimising energy, waste, water use and equipment performance at sites can be achieved through cutting edge grinding, flotation, leaching, ore chemistry, process optimisation and advanced recovery solutions. Future innovations are wide reaching and include coarse particle flotation, gravity separation, microwave fracturing, novel leaching, bio-mining, artificial neural networks, and ESG mapping.

“Copper is key to a greener, smarter world but mining has to embrace innovation to cut emissions going forward,” ICAA CEO, John Fennell, said. “The Minerals Processing roadmap accepts this isn’t going to be easy, but shows what can be achieved with widespread collaboration, knowledge sharing and a systems thinking approach.”

“Every copper producer and each copper operation will face its own pathway to decarbonisation, but Minerals Processing suggests just what can done together.”

Minerals Processing was supported by European Copper Institute (ECI), Aeris Resources, Anax Metals, CMOC - Northparkes Mines, Copper for Tomorrow CRC bid, Glencore, MMG, Newcrest Mining, Newmont, Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML), PanAust, Sandfire Resources. The ICAA Roadmap to Zero Project is supported by the NSW Government.


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