May 17, 2020

Researchers develop new cost-effective method to find copper

molybdenum
Gold
Copper
molybdenum
Admin
2 min
Researchers develop new cost-effective method to find copper
Porphyry-type copper deposits provide 75 percent of the worlds copper and a significant amount of molybdenum and gold. These rare deposits, which origin...

Porphyry-type copper deposits provide 75 percent of the world’s copper and a significant amount of molybdenum and gold. These rare deposits, which originally form at several kilometers below the Earth’s surface, above large magma chambers, are most economical to mine. However, most near-surface deposits have already been discovered.

Dr. Ben Williamson, a geologist at the University of Exeter, and Dr. Richard Herrington from the Natural History Museum of London have developed a new and cost-effective way for mining companies to identify these copper deposits, particularly those located deep underground.

The project, funded by Anglo American, compared the chemical compositions of minerals from magmatic rocks that host porphyry deposits against those which are barren. A case study was then undertaken of a major new porphyry discovery in Chile, to test their theory. Minerals from magmatic rocks which host porphyry deposits have distinctive chemical characteristics which can be used as one of a suite of indicators to home-in on porphyry deposits. 

• Related: [INFOGRAPHIC] The world’s most valuable substances

The main finding in the report, which was published in Nature Geoscience, is that the magma chamber below the porphyry undergoes discrete injections of water-rich melts or watery fluids which enhance the magma’s ability to transfer copper and other metals upwards to form a porphyry copper deposit.

“This new method will add to the range of tools available to exploration companies to discover new porphyry copper deposits,” said Williamson. “Our findings also provide important insights into why some magmas are more likely to produce porphyry copper deposits than others, and add to our understanding of how their parent magmatic rocks evolve.”

Stay connected! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook 

Check out the latest edition of Mining Global

Share article

Jun 30, 2021

Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech

Rio Tinto
ELYSIS
Decarbonisation
Alcoa
3 min
ELYSIS
Rio Tinto and Alcoa’s JV project ELYSIS has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint

Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.

ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production

ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.

The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.

The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).

The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.

The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.

ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.

ELYSIS technology at a glance:

  • The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
  • The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
  • In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
  • ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.

ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.

Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.

 

Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”

Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”

Share article