The world is suffering from a lack of copper, which has created a high dependence of humans on this resource, which was easily available in the past. Mining companies are facing a lot of challenges in copper mining (Copper Crisis) and it is possible to know what those challenges are and what are the technologies adopted by the companies.
Many mining companies in the search for copper are now working to solve the shortage the world is facing. As the demand for copper increased, the supply from mines in the arid steppes increased. Now Rio Tinto Group and Mongolian authorities have succeeded in discovering one of the world’s richest underground copper mines earlier this year.
This quest is the answer!
Oyu Tolgoi, a mine in southern Mongolia north of the Chinese border, has abundant deposits of copper, a metal that is fundamental to the transition to clean energy. This discovery is a fitting response to the organization’s four decades of hard work.
More reserves are to be discovered
According to geologist Doug Kirwin, the copper shortage crisis will not be solved by the exploration of such mining areas. Doug, who has experience working in these deposits, reveals a bleak future. Doug explains that the problem here is that there are not enough copper deposits to be found and developed.
What is the solution to cover the current shortage?
Analysts at Wood Mackenzie said the solution to curb the current shortage would be to reduce copper by around six million tonnes over the next decade. According to one estimate, refined copper will grow by 53% by 2040, while mine supply will grow by only 16%.
The world’s biggest miners are also stepping up their efforts, with renewed demand for green metals (aluminum, cobalt, copper, lithium, nickel, silver and zinc) and deals underway. A shortage of the green metal has led Glencore Plc’s Tech Resources Ltd to aim to boost copper supply. BHP Group Ltd has completed its acquisition of copper producer Oz Minerals in what is expected to be the biggest deal in a decade.
Problems in mine constructions
Even more of a headache than buying mines is their construction. Prices are not equal to cover rising costs. Likewise, the financial risks are substantial. Now take Oyu Tolgoi as an example where construction includes 200 km of concrete tunnels to an open pit.
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Along with this it also includes roads, airport, power transmission and water infrastructure. The canteen caters to more than 20,000 workers. Thus, the cost of construction of facilities in mining plants is also growing excessively.
More expenditure, less result
Although exploration has been high of late, spending has been less than needed and results have been meagre. This means that the percentage of metal in the ore is lower so more effort is required to achieve the same production level.
Mines are getting old. The mines are getting deeper. David Radcliffe, managing director of Global Mining Research, says mines are getting lower grades.
Companies engaged in copper miningBHP Group, the largest mining company, is already an investor and is currently in talks for a pilot plant at Escondida, Chile’s Crown Jewel copper mine. US miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc began implementing the modern technology at an Arizona mine this year, while rival Rio Tinto Group plans to roll out a similar process.
The demand for copper is increasing day by day
Miners are responding to an increasingly urgent problem. Copper is an essential resource in the modern world. Used in everything from phones and computers to water pipes and cables. And the global drive to decarbonise is based on phasing out natural resources like oil and coal. The electrical sector needs more copper than ever before.
Problems currently faced by mines
The best mines are getting old and some of the new discoveries are in hard-to-operate locations. Or face years of opposition to development. The history of commodity markets has shown that growing shortages, spurring new inventions and technologies. An estimated 43 million tonnes of copper has been mined but no processing has been carried out, it is reported.
Copper waste treatment is not going well
At current prices, over $2 trillion worth of refining creates huge opportunities for anyone who can successfully recover that wealth. As technology improved, copper processing also had to evolve, which was not feasible for some types of ore. Millions more tons are underground that are not viable for mining.
Success is possible with the adoption of technology
If the technology is fully adopted by the industry, the company estimates that by 2040, it could produce an additional 8 million tonnes of copper per year. More than a third of last year’s total global mine production was estimated by the firms.
The Mongolian government prefers to build a power plant for the Rio mine rather than use electricity across the border that is generated in China. It is keen to smelt the copper itself instead of sending it in trucks.
Jetty technology is a new hope in mining
Oyu Tolgoi, when it was in full production, was recognized as the world’s fourth-largest copper mine. Now a US startup has broken the news that it has solved a problem that has frustrated the mining world for decades.
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It’s a technology called jetty technology that, if successful, could complement millions of tons of new copper discoveries to supply copper to power grids, building sites and car fleets. Jetty technology will complement the process of extracting copper through conventional ore. Microorganisms consume the rock adjacent to the copper, facilitating the release of trapped copper. Jetty has introduced a special accelerator like this.
Aim of new projects
Jetty aims to apply its technology to recover copper from common types of sulfide ore. Jetty has worked with the University of British Columbia to develop the chemical catalyst. This allows copper to be released using leaching without the need for high temperatures, the researchers said.