Tag Archives: copper

Futureproofing the world’s copper supply through technology use

Realising the vision of a world of clean energy brings the issue of metal supply into sharp focus, with major and sustained increases required to meet growing demands, Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Ellen Thomson* writes.

With copper, for example, there are predictions of a shortfall of 15 Mt per annum by 2034 based on the current output. Therefore, boosting the efficiency of mining operations has never been more important, and smarter technology is undoubtedly the way forward to achieve this. Real-time sampling and measurement right across the mineral processing value chain can arm miners with analytical data, enabling them to build a robust understanding of the performance of each plant and drive continuous improvement at every step of the process. This article takes a closer look at how several of these steps could be optimised, including ore grade measurement, sorting on the mill feed conveyor, particle size analysis in the grinding circuit, the addition of reagents in the flotation circuit and elemental analysis and impurity detection in the concentrate leaving the plant.

Copper miners face the challenge of satisfying the rising demand for metal, while hitting the industry’s 2050 net zero carbon target. This is likely to require significant changes in operations through processing low-grade ore more efficiently, fully exploiting existing deposits, and bringing new mines into production. Unfortunately, higher-grade ore – with a 2-3% metal concentration – has largely been depleted, and miners now often work with concentrations of just 0.5%, meaning greater quantities of ore must be processed to extract sufficient amounts of copper. Therefore, it is essential to seek fresh opportunities to improve processes across the entire mining value chain, so that the increasing demand for copper ore will be met well into the future.

Does your ore make the grade?

Enhancing mining efficiency begins as soon as raw material is extracted from the ground, and extends through the crushing process and the mill feed conveyor. It is important to accurately measure the grade of the plant feed as this will impact both the performance of the concentrator and the production costs of the final product. However, this can be challenging, as some deposits are highly heterogeneous and unpredictable. Bulk ore sensing and sorting are, therefore, crucial steps in improving the raw feed material consistency and concentrator efficiency, since they reduce the dilution of incoming feeds and redirect low or marginal grade material away from the concentrator at the first opportunity. These stages rely on highly accurate and precise analytical technologies to rapidly differentiate material grade and minimise the loss of valuable material, moving only economically viable ore further along in the process. A high spec analyser is vital to this part of the chain and enables small and lower-grade satellite deposits to be accessed more successfully, as well as increasing profits for established plants.

Cracking down on the grinding circuit

Grinding is an essential first step in mineral liberation, but there is often no clear understanding of what the target particle size should be for a given head grade. Producing finer particles liberates more metal, but also increases media and energy costs. More than 50% of the energy consumed at a mine goes into crushing and grinding, so over grinding has definite economic and environmental implications. It is crucial, therefore, for each mine to find a balance between particle size and circuit throughput that limits consumption of grinding media and energy, while still maximising metal yields.

Grinding just enough is critical – too fine means lower throughput and/or higher energy consumption; too coarse and recovery suffers

Once a target has been established, real-time analysis of particle size and head grade elemental composition – for example, by prompt gamma neutron activation analysis (PGNAA) using a cross-belt system such as the Thermo Scientific™ CB Omni™ Agile Online Elemental Analyzer – can have a significant impact on the efficiency of the grinding circuit. In addition, by standardising particle size and controlling composition through the plant feed and grinding stages, the stability in feed forward control is increased going into the next stage – the flotation circuit.

The CB Omni™ Agile Online Elemental Analyzer (Thermo Scientific) rapidly and accurately differentiates material that is at or below the cut-off grade for ore sorting, the company says

Fine-tuning flotation

Flotation is a complicated physicochemical process where reagents – such as frothers, collectors and pH modifiers – are introduced to promote separation. The flotation feed can vary in particle size and chemistry depending on how the grinding circuit is optimised, and may contain excess fines. Miners might choose to compensate by adding more reagents, which can sometimes be beneficial but can also incur greater financial and environmental costs. Therefore, it is important to tailor the dosages of the flotation reagents in response to the incoming ore grade and particle size.

Concentrating on monitoring impurities

Certain impurities compromise the value of a concentrate, but they are often overlooked. Detecting impurities in the concentrate ahead of shipping reduces the chance of rejection at the receiving site – and the subsequent financial losses – and has the potential to improve ore quality, strengthen a company’s reputation and reduce the risk of penalty charges. In fact, representative sampling throughout ore extraction to concentrate the production process should be considered, but this can be extremely challenging owing to concentrated slurries, high tonnages, long distances between sample and analysis, and the expense and complexity of tackling head constraints.

Multi-stream analysers – like the Thermo Scientific MSA 3300 Slurry XRF Analyzer – are commonly employed in the mining industry, and can seem like an excellent, cost-effective solution. However, multiple streams can reduce efficiencies and lengthen the time to results – leading to less responsive control – and so their low upfront cost should be carefully balanced with their long-term implications. Choosing high quality analytical equipment that requires minimal manual input and has a proven record of reliability could help overcome these challenges and offer a better long-term solution. For example, a dedicated online sampling and elemental analysis station, such as the AnStat-330, provides a versatile and compact solution for addressing issues related to the process control of critical streams, time to results, the distance from sampler to analyser and the requirement for a metallurgical accounting quality sample.

 

 

The MSA 3300 Slurry XRF Analyzer (Thermo Scientific) measures up to 12 streams, with full stream separation retained throughout, Thermo Fisher says
The Anstat-330 Slurry Online Sampling and Elemental Analysis Station (Thermo Scientific) comes with options for additional process functionality, including distribution and pebble screening

Future-ready mining technology

It is vital to detect and understand why mining processes may be operating sub-optimally to know how to improve them. Relevant, reliable digital information is the foundation of an efficient operation and investing in more effective and continuous analysis is a key strategy for increasing return on investment. Digital twins, for example, integrate and collect data from sensors into a cloud platform to construct a complete and fully representative digital version of the concentrator. This allows miners to model different scenarios – such as changing process parameters – without interrupting the real-world activities of the mine. They aid in decision making and help to prevent unnecessary expenditure, as well as identifying any operational bottlenecks. Mining companies could potentially achieve 20 times – with some estimates up to 40 times – return on their initial investment through implementing digital twins, and more easily establish advanced, automated process control, increasing efficiency and depopulating mines.

Digital innovations are undoubtedly going to transform the mining industry and will help to reduce resource consumption and meet future sustainability goals. Without reliable, timely feedback, process control will always be on a ‘trial and error’ basis, which is no longer sufficient if miners are to fulfil the increasing copper demand ahead of us. Thermo Fisher Scientific supports the mining industry in adopting such technologies to enable dependable, timely and, often, real-time measurements that provide the data that miners need to track metal values, all the way from exiting the mine through to concentrate shipping.

*Ellen Thomson is PGNAA & Minerals Senior Applications Specialist at Thermo Fisher Scientific

Hatch identifies opportunities to cut Australian tailings generation by as much as 30%

A new report from multi-disciplinary engineering, operational and development project, Hatch, estimates Australia’s mining waste can be reduced by 30% using already available technologies.

One of the biggest challenges currently facing the mining industry is managing the volume of tailings generated as minerals mining ramps up to meet the demands of the transition to renewable energy.

Undertaking an in-depth analysis to identify the technologies required to reduce or eliminate tailings of six key commodities (copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, coal and bauxite), Hatch investigated how tailings production would be impacted by applying the key technologies ‘themes’: advanced geometallurgy, ore sorting, advanced sensing and particle sorting, in-situ extraction, and preferential fracturing.

The company’s analysis revealed that technologies available today could reduce tailings by 20-30%, also identifying that, in the next 10-20 years, the integration of these technologies in future projects or expansions could provide an opportunity to reduce tailings by more than 50%.

Managing Director of Australia and Asia at Hatch, Jan Kwak (pictured), says the challenge of reducing tailings is a complex effort that is best solved utilising the innovative capacity of the entire mining supply chain.

“A balanced spread of researchers, METS (mining equipment, technology and services) companies, and operators in the mining industry are actively commercialising technologies,” he said. “Half (50%) of stakeholders identified are METS companies, whose core business is the supply of equipment and services of these technologies, indicating commercialisation is underway. This group was also present across the technologies that our analysis has shown to have higher TRLs (Technology Readiness Levels).”

The TRL ranking system measures the maturity of technologies, whereby Hatch graded technologies from zero (idea stage) to nine (commercial application).

For in-situ mining and preferential fracturing technology themes, there is a larger representation of research organisations and partnerships. This suggests collaboration is required to advance technological development, according to Hatch.

“It is vital that these stakeholders are highly engaged in the tailings reduction challenge in order to achieve the greatest cut through and introduce real change and advancement in the reduction of tailings, which will be needed to support the increase in mining activity while meeting emissions reduction targets,” added Kwak.

First Quantum board signs off development of Kansanshi S3 Expansion, Enterprise nickel project

The First Quantum Minerals Ltd Board of Directors has signed off on the S3 Expansion at the Kansanshi mine and the Enterprise nickel project, both in Zambia.

The approval will lead to work on both projects starting immediately, with the company re-commencing detailed engineering works for the S3 Expansion to determine purchase orders for key long-lead items, including the SAG mill, ball mill and in-pit crushing station; and a mining contractor being mobilised for the Enterprise nickel project in order to commence pre-stripping of the pit in June 2022.

This could see Kansanshi’s life pushed out to 2044 with the introduction of new electrical loading and drilling equipment along with the extension of the current electric trolley assist infrastructure, with Enterprise contributing some 30,000 t/y of nickel concentrate in upcoming years.

“First Quantum has been working constructively with the Government of Zambia’s New Dawn administration as part of their efforts to reform the mining sector, attract investment and increase Zambia’s copper production,” Tristan Pascall, Chief Executive Officer, said. “The approval of the projects reflects First Quantum’s increased confidence in the investment climate in Zambia.”

The S3 Expansion and the Enterprise nickel project are a key part of the company’s brownfield growth strategy, according to Pascall.

“The Kansanshi mine has been a cornerstone asset for First Quantum for 15 years and the S3 Expansion will expand production and extend the mine life for another two decades,” he said. “The low-cost, high-grade Enterprise nickel project is well placed to supply the rapidly growing electric vehicle battery sector.

“The approval of these two projects is an important milestone for the company’s path towards responsible production growth of the metals needed for the global green energy transition.”

The approval of the projects follows the efforts of the New Dawn administration to enhance both the investment climate for mining and to seek commitments from the mining sector to contribute to the national economy and to corporate social responsibility, First Quantum says. These initiatives will help establish a platform for more stable, durable and responsible mining in Zambia.

The Government of Zambia’s commitments address the ease of doing business in Zambia, covering areas such as expediting immigration procedures in exchange for commitments for local employment levels, competitive pricing of power transmission and power procurement from independent sources which in turn will support renewable energy projects, and measures to ensure the ease of importing and exporting goods.

The approvals follow the re-introduction of the deductibility of mineral royalties for corporate income tax assessment purposes that became effective in January. This measure realigned Zambia with international best practice, according to First Quantum. The government’s commitment to improve the predictability of the mining fiscal regime also provides the certainty needed to support large capital investments in Zambia.

“Furthermore, First Quantum and the government have successfully resolved all points of contention that have been stumbling blocks to progress on the S3 Expansion and Enterprise nickel project,” it said. “This includes reaching agreement in respect to the outstanding value-added tax receivable sum and an approach for repayment based on offsets against future mining taxes and royalties.”

The S3 Expansion is expected to transition the current selective high-grade, medium-scale operation to a medium-grade, larger-scale mining operation that will be more appropriate for the higher proportion of primary, lower-grade sulphide ores at depth, First Quantum said. As outlined in the NI 43-101 Technical Report filed in September 2020, the S3 Expansion, when completed, will comprise of a standalone 25 Mt/y processing plant with a new larger mining fleet that will increase Kansanshi’s total annual throughput to 53 Mt/y.

Once the expansion is completed, copper production from Kansanshi is expected to average approximately 250,000 t/y for the remaining life of mine to 2044.

A significant portion of the initial construction works for the S3 Expansion have been previously undertaken with much of the civil and structural work on-site completed, First Quantum said. The remaining work includes completion of the remaining engineering design works, procurement and installation of equipment, electrics, controls and infrastructure. The S3 processing train will comprise of a 28 MW SAG mill and a 22 MW ball mill. The open-pit mine will be expanded to increase the supply of sulphide ore from the Main Pit and extend into the South East Dome deposit. The expanded mining fleet will use similar ultra-class equipment as First Quantum’s other key mines and will benefit from new electrical loading and drilling equipment along with the extension of the current electric trolley assist infrastructure, First Quantum said.

In parallel with the expansion of the mine and processing facilities, the company plans to increase the throughput capacity of the Kansanshi smelter from 1.38 Mt/y to 1.65 Mt/y of concentrate. This will enable the smelter to produce over 400,000 t/y of copper anode.

The total capital expenditures associated with the S3 Expansion is expected to be $1.25 billion, which includes $900 million on the S3 plant and mine fleet and $350 million for pre-stripping of the South East Dome pit. Approximately $800 million of this spending is included in the company’s current three-year guidance released on January 17, 2022, with the balance falling beyond the guidance period. First production from the S3 Expansion is expected in 2025.

The Enterprise nickel sulphide deposit is located 12 km northwest of the Sentinel copper mine. As outlined in the NI 43-101 Technical Report, filed in March 2020, proven and probable reserves at Enterprise total 34.7 Mt of ore at 0.99% Ni.

The Enterprise nickel project will consist of a single, main open pit and one extension to the southwest. It will use the existing 4 Mt/y nickel circuit that was previously built as part of the original Sentinel processing complex. The main workstream to bring the project online will be the pre-strip of waste. The development timeline for Enterprise is expected to be approximately 12 months. At full production, Enterprise is expected to produce an average of 30,000 t/y of nickel in high-grade concentrate.

The total capital expenditures associated with the Enterprise nickel project is expected to be approximately $100 million. Pre-stripping of the Enterprise pit of $60 million is included in the three-year guidance provided earlier this year along with $40 million related to infrastructure and plant commissioning. Expected first nickel production of 5,000-10,000 t of nickel in 2023 is included in the company’s three-year guidance.

Metso Outotec to supply electrowinning equipment to copper cathode plant in Africa

Metso Outotec says it has been awarded a contract for the delivery of advanced electrowinning equipment to a copper cathode production plant in Africa.

The order value amounting to approximately €11 million ($11.5 million) is booked in the company’s Minerals Q2/2022 orders received.

Metso Outotec’s scope of delivery includes the supply of basic engineering and equipment for the copper electrowinning plant expansion, it said.

The OEM’s offering for copper electrowinning tankhouses comprises pre-engineered solutions, key equipment and services to ensure superior process performance, increased safety and minimised environmental impact.

Thiess to trial Plotlogic’s OreSense tech at Anthill copper project

Thiess says it is taking another step to be at the forefront of sustainable mining with a technology trial involving Plotlogic’s OreSense solution at the Anthill copper project in Central Queensland, Australia.

With the promise of reduced environmental impact, improved safety and increased productivity the OreSense technology scans rock to distinguish high-grade resources from waste, Thiess explains. The technology provides real-time information, eliminating the need for a week or more waiting for testing results.

The technology is also expected to create environmental benefits through lower fuel usage and machinery consumables and a more optimised heap leaching process, according to Thiess.

Group Executive Growth & Strategy, Abdul Jarrah, said the trial aligned with Thiess’ commitment to use technology to drive sustainable improvements for our clients.

“Investing in technology such as OreSense further enhances our inhouse capability and allows us to offer our clients greater value across the safety, cost, productivity and environmental spectrum,” Jarrah said. “Importantly, our focus on innovation will support our clients to achieve their environmental goals as Thiess continues to establish itself as a leader in sustainable mining practices.”

Group Manager, Geology and Geotechnical, Donna Sheehy, said applications for the technology were far-reaching.

“The machine takes around three minutes to scan a wall or mine face area of 15 m by 50 m – if the trial proves successful there is potential to scan dig faces and stockpiles to determine grade,” she said.

“From machine learning we can use OreSense to give us real time assay – saving lengthy lab processing wait times.

“This allows us to increase the average grade of material fed to the heap leaching process which means we haul less waste, reducing our use of fuel and machinery consumables.”

The trial, set to begin at the Anthill copper project, owned by Austral Resources, on April 27, will run for around four weeks.

Austral says CSA Global completed an updated mining study in April 2021 on Anthill resulting in a JORC 2012 compliant ore reserve of 5.1 Mt grading 0.94% Cu containing 47,700 t of copper. This study outlined that ore will be mined from two pits over a 40-month period. Total recovered copper from the heap leach process will be 40,400 t over a 44-month period.

Metso Outotec secures major mineral processing order from South-East Asia copper-gold mine

Metso Outotec says it has been awarded a major order for the supply of key minerals processing technologies to a copper and gold mine project in South-East Asia.

The contract value of €40 million ($43 million) has been booked to the company’s Minerals Q1 (March quarter) 2022 orders received.

Metso Outotec says it has a strong presence in South-East Asia including a Service Center, which is able to support local mining customers.

Metso Outotec to deliver 100th Anode Casting Shop to Indonesian copper smelter

Metso Outotec says it will deliver its 100th Anode Casting Shop to PT Smelting’s (PTS) copper smelter in Gresik, East Java, Indonesia.

The OEM, which says it has been a frontrunner in the development of anode casting technology for several decades, says the Gresik project is a true milestone for the company.

Today, most of the world’s copper anodes are produced with Metso Outotec’s proprietary anode casting technology, it stated.

Sami Maaniittu, Director, Anode Casting, Metso Outotec, said the system to be delivered to PTS is one of the world’s largest Twin Wheel Anode Casting Shops with a guaranteed capacity of 120 t/h.

Metso Outotec’s predecessor companies started the development and testing of automatic anode casting already in 1969 in Harjavalta, Finland.

“Before that, castings were made manually with controlled ladle tilting,” Maaniittu said. “The first anode weighing and casting machine was delivered to the USA in 1972, and a year later, the first complete anode casting shop was installed at the Harjavalta Smelter in Finland.”

Metso Outotec’s Twin Wheel Casting concept, paving the way for today’s standard, was developed in the 1990s. The equipment design significantly improves casting capacity and provides more efficient use of floor space, according to the company. The wheels are supported on large centre bearings and driven by double drive systems developed to eliminate the backlash effect in the wheel movement and to ensure even quality.

The first Twin Wheel Anode Casting Shop systems were delivered in 1997. Since then, the Twin Wheel has become the first choice of high-capacity anode casting shops, according to Metso Outotec.

Today, most of the anode casting shops supplied by Metso Outotec are fully electric without any hydraulic systems. Their high level of automation ensures premium anode quality with excellent weight accuracy and low reject rate combined with high capacity and availability, the company said. Metso Outotec Anode Casting Shops are safe and easy to operate and feature low energy consumption.

In addition to full anode casting systems, Metso Outotec offers a variety of modular updates for the existing installations, including automation and services.

Teck’s Carmen de Andacollo goes live with MineSense shovel-based ore sorting system

Following a successful trial of a MineSense’s ShovelSense ore sorting unit at Teck Resources’ Carmen de Andacollo mine in Chile, the operation is now using the system to divert trucks in real-time, MineSense says.

The implementation of an additional ShovelSense system at CDA is now also underway, the Vancouver-based company says.

CDA is Teck Resource’s second mining operation using ShovelSense, following commercialisation in 2019 at Highland Valley Copper (HVC) in British Columbia, Canada.

“The ShovelSense results are spectacular!” Victor Araya, Teck Superintendent Geology, said, referring to the results of the trial recently completed.

All new technology introduced into the mine is rigorously tested at different stages of evaluation at scale to ensure the system works reliably in the field, according to MineSense. ShovelSense exceeded one-digit accuracy (single-digit relative error) measuring copper ore and met and exceeded expectations for all criteria in the trial: system availability; accuracy to blast hole data; and precision in the field, the company reported.

Teck CDA also recently celebrated the diversion of seven ore-from-waste trucks, which are the first of many that ShovelSense data will automatically divert to maximise ore recovery and minimise the needless transportation and processing of waste, MineSense said.

“We have now incorporated ShovelSense to decide the destination of the materials, not at the block scale, but truck to truck, due to the reading of grades on each shelf of the loading equipment… the end result is increased ore to mill tonnage and also a significant improvement in feed grade,” Araya concluded.

Claudio Toro, EVP Business Development at MineSense, added: “We are proud that Teck has chosen to partner with MineSense again, demonstrating confidence that ShovelSense is a proven and valued technology. Global mining operations are continually seeking new ways to get more value out of their mines and extend the life of mine and we are pleased to again be chosen by Teck.

“ShovelSense is a proven solution that unlocks a mine’s full potential.”

Hear more about Teck CDA’s installation on April 25 when MineSense and International Mining will be holding a joint webinar titled, ‘Ore sorting at the extraction face’ at 10 am EST/4pm CEST. Click here for more information

FLSmidth to supply mineral processing equipment to Josemaria Resources’ copper-gold project

FLSmidth has been chosen to supply the SAG mills, ball mills and cyclones to Josemaria Resources’ 150,000 t/d copper-gold project in the San Juan Province of Argentina.

Approximately DKK110 million ($16.3 million) of the DKK600 million order was booked in the December quarter, with the remaining amount, around DKK490 million, booked in the March quarter of 2022.

FLSmidth will deliver the three gearless SAG mills, three gearless ball mills and cyclones to the site by late-2023. The OEM was chosen to deliver the equipment due to the high reliability and efficient performance of our SAG and ball mill technologies, it said.

The Josemaria open-pit mine is a high-grade copper-gold porphyry project. It is located in Argentina, some 450 km from San Juan, in an important and emerging copper mining district. It has an anticipated mine life of 19 years.

Lundin Mining is currently in the process of trying to acquire Josemaria Resources in a deal that came with an implied equity value of approximately $485 million.

Mikko Keto, Group CEO and Mining President at FLSmidth, said: “The order of SAG mills, ball mills and cyclones to the Josemaria Resources copper-gold project in Argentina is very positive news for FLSmidth. It illustrates great confidence in FLSmidth and emphasises the proven performance and productivity of our high-end solutions. The efficiency of the equipment will meet our customer promise to deliver sustainable productivity to the copper and gold mining industry.”

Repair, Reuse, Recycle: ERG’s critical minerals reprocessing journey

The Musonoi River Valley in the Katanga region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has, for some decades, been the site of land degradation resulting from inadequate and ineffective tailings and other waste management systems.

The local water system and surrounding land has been subjected to pollution from more than 83.2 Mt of legacy tailings spread over an area 11-km long and up to 2.5-km wide. Additionally, 41.1 Mt of tailings have accumulated at the Kingamyambo Tailings Dam.

Remediating and mitigating this damage is now a primary goal of Eurasian Resources Group’s Metalkol Roan Tailings Reclamation (RTR), a reprocessing facility dedicated to cleaning up the historic tailings left by previous mining operators in the Kolwezi area of the DRC. By reclaiming and reprocessing copper and cobalt tailings in the region, the company says its approach goes beyond ‘do no harm’, actively addressing a history of environmental degradation and pollution.

The legacy tailings are extracted through hydraulic mining and dredging, reprocessed and then re-deposited into a modern, closely managed and centralised tailings storage facility. This is subject to regular inspection, monitoring and reporting, supported by a dedicated Engineer of Record and an independent laboratory. Currently Metalkol RTR can produce 21,000 t/y of cobalt, which is says is sufficient for three million electric vehicle batteries, alongside around 100,000 t/y of copper, the company says.

ERG also has reprocessing operations outside of Africa, including at Kazchrome in Kazakhstan, which, it says, is the world’s largest high-carbon ferrochrome producer by chrome content.

Established in 2019, ERG Recycling – ERG’s specialised company aiming to become the largest entity to reprocess industrial waste into commercial products in Kazakhstan – has already implemented many projects including the commissioning of a new workshop that reprocesses slag, dust and other fine waste into high-quality briquettes. This program to reprocess Kazchrome’s 14.7 Mt of slag stockpiles has been expanded, now processing over 100,000 t/y of slag.

These operations have been enhanced by the development of new technology. Having completed the first trial in 2020, the Slimes 2 Tailings Reprocessing project at Donskoy GOK has the potential to enhance Kazchrome’s output of chrome concentrate by recovering 55% of the chromium oxide in chrome-oxide bearing tailings using innovative flotation technology, the company says.

In Brazil, at ERG’s integrated project, BAMIN, which produces a premium 67% Fe grade iron ore and is ramping up to become one of the country’s largest standalone iron ore exporters, the company’s transition from an upstream to a downstream tailings model ensured continued compliance with both local regulations and international standards, it said. The group continues to study additional technological enhancements to ensure the construction and operation of a world-class facility.

The environmental benefits of reprocessing projects like these are very significant for the business and critical to local communities, according to the company.

“As more attention rightly turns towards environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, it is crucial that tailings are dealt with and stored properly,” ERG said. “Aside from preventing significant issues, such as dam collapses, by reprocessing and responsibly storing these tailings, we are reducing local pollution risks more generally, increasing air quality and decreasing the likelihood of leaching toxic substances into surrounding habitats and water systems.”

Given the legacy of environmental degradation and serious consequences it poses, it is also necessary for mining companies to explore novel ways of rehabilitating the environment.

For example, ERG has been working with a team of agronomists from the University of Lubumbashi in the DRC to look into the experimental planting of trees and their growing potential at the Kingamyambo tailings dam.

Looking forward, these operations will support the sustainable development of affordable batteries and other clean energy technologies.

By producing critical raw materials, such as cobalt, without the risk and cost of needing to develop new mining projects, ERG says it can help make electric vehicles and other renewable technologies more accessible, helping facilitating the net-zero transition.

Pictured above is Metalkol RTR, ERG’s reprocessing facility in the DRC: the world’s second largest standalone cobalt producer