Tag Archives: molybdenum

Rio Tinto Kennecott to recover tellurium from copper smelting

Rio Tinto is to construct a new plant that will recover tellurium, a critical mineral used in solar panels, from copper refining at its Kennecott mine near Salt Lake City, Utah.

The company is investing $2.9 million to set up the plant, which will recover tellurium as a by-product of copper smelting, extracting a valuable mineral from waste streams. The plant will have a capacity to produce around 20 t/y of tellurium, the miner said.

Rio expects to begin production of tellurium in the December quarter of 2021, creating a new North American supply chain for the critical mineral.

Tellurium is an essential component of cadmium telluride, a semiconductor used to manufacture thin film photovoltaic solar panels. Thin films made of this compound can efficiently convert sunlight into electricity, according to the miner. Tellurium can also be used as an additive to steel and copper to improve machinability, making these metals easier to cut. It can also be added to lead to increase resistance to sulphuric acid, vibration and fatigue.

Rio Tinto Kennecott Managing Director, Gaby Poirier, said: “The minerals and metals we produce are essential to accelerate the transition to renewable energy. Adding tellurium to our product portfolio provides customers in North America with a secure and reliable source of tellurium produced at the highest environmental and labour standards with renewable energy. Rio Tinto is committed to using innovation to reduce waste in our production process and extract as much value as possible from the material that we mine and process.”

Utah Governor, Spencer Cox, said: “With abundant natural resources, Utah is ideally positioned to help supply the critical minerals essential to maintain American manufacturing competitiveness. Rio Tinto’s smelter at Kennecott is one of only two that is capable of producing copper and other critical minerals. The new tellurium plant is another valuable contribution to critical mineral independence and energy security in the US”

Along with producing almost 20% of US copper, Kennecott’s smelting process also recovers gold, silver, lead carbonate, platinum, palladium and selenium, while molybdenum is recovered from the Copperton concentrator. In total, nine products are currently recovered from the ore extracted at Kennecott.

Rio Tinto is a partner with the US Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI) and works closely with CMI experts to discover further ways to economically recover critical mineral by-products such as rhenium, tellurium and lithium. The company is also investing in new facilities to extract battery-grade lithium from waste rock at its Boron, California mine site and high quality scandium oxide from waste streams at its metallurgical complex in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec.

Almonty aims for ‘carbon neutrality’ at Sandong molybdenum mine

Almonty Industries is expanding its current environmental, social and governance (ESG) program at its Panasqueira mine in Portugal and at its Sangdong project (pictured) in South Korea, with the former set to receive a solar facility in the next 12 months and the latter eying up the use of underground electric fleets.

The solar project at Panasqueira, a tungsten mine, will see a 2.52 MW installation implemented over the next 12 months to produce 4.1 million kWh/y of renewable energy, which represents 21.5% of power consumption at the mine.

At the Sangdong tungsten mine, a third-party report will be concluded over the next three months to analyse the asset’s carbon footprint and how best to minimise it. Given the energy from the grid supplied to the Sangdong project is 100% renewable, the company says it has a “unique opportunity” to push towards carbon neutrality at the Korea site. The underground mine is currently under construction.

Lewis Black, Chairman, President and CEO of Almonty, said: “As we transition into the wider financial ETF markets of Asia and Australia, and our visibility continues to increase as a significant producer of the strategic metals of tungsten and molybdenum once Sangdong and Almonty Korea Moly opens, it has become increasingly important to ensure that we are continually reviewing and developing our ESG which sits perfectly in line with the equator principles around which the Sangdong project is being built.”

He added: “The aim for carbon neutrality at Sangdong is potentially achievable once underground electric fleets can maintain a charge for an entire shift, which is estimated to be technically possible within the next 18 months, but we are extremely fortunate that 100% of our energy comes from a renewable source making the target of carbon neutrality achievable.”

Taseko Mines’ Gibraltar operation honoured at BC Mine Reclamation Awards

Taseko Mines’s Gibraltar copper-molybdenum operation has been awarded the prestigious Jake McDonald Annual Award for Metal Mine Reclamation from the British Columbia Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation (TRCR).

TRCR’s annual BC Mine Reclamation Awards, which recognises outstanding achievement in mine reclamation in British Columbia, was held on September 23, 2020.

The aim of Gibraltar’s reclamation research program is continual improvement by identifying and introducing leading-edge ideas within the field of environmental science in mine reclamation, it says. With this goal in mind, projects at Gibraltar include:

  • Sampling of salmon from the Fraser River in partnerships with the Xatśūll First Nations and the North Shuswap Tribal Council to provide information to local Indigenous communities regarding the safety of consuming salmon captured at traditional fishing sites;
  • Studying and using innovative technologies to determine how reclamation activities promote the development and recovery of biological communities; and
  • Supporting BCIT, SFU, and Mitacs master’s students in a trial research program to expedite the development of soil microbial crust, specifically at the tailings storage facility.

Stuart McDonald, President of Taseko, said: “The Jake McDonald Award is the top mine reclamation award in British Columbia, a province that has a large mining industry. This achievement reflects the hard work of many talented people and we are honoured to have been chosen as this year’s recipient. The award adds to our track record of achievement which includes other recognition awards for employee safety and community service.”

Russell Hallbauer, CEO and Director of Taseko, added: “Gibraltar has been operating for nearly 50 years, generating opportunity for people and economic benefit for communities in the Cariboo. The efforts of our Gibraltar employees continue to be rewarded by achievements like this high-profile award. It is gratifying to see their talent and ingenuity being recognised at the highest levels. Gibraltar is proof of mining sustainability in action.

“We would specifically like to acknowledge the local Xatśūll First Nations and the North Shuswap Tribal Council Fisheries Department for their partnership and traditional knowledge in the annual Fraser River salmon sampling program. As well as a thank you to the Xatśūll First Nations reclamation crew, whose participation has contributed to the success of Gibraltar’s reclamation program.”

Xatśūll First Nations Chief, Sheri Sellars, said: “I am proud of the work Xatśūll First Nation community members have done in partnership with Taseko-Gibraltar. The fish sampling program and the reclamation work have been award-winning successes. Our members have also benefitted from employment opportunities and educational initiatives which stem from our relationship with Gibraltar.”

Taseko, the 75% owner of Gibraltar, restarted the operation in 2004. It is the second largest open-pit copper mine in Canada and the largest employer in the Cariboo region, according to the company.

Antofagasta responds to environmental concerns with new Los Pelambres copper mine plan

Antofagasta Minerals is preparing to submit an investment proposal for its Los Pelambres mine in Chile that could see it stop using water from the Choapa River and nearby wells, and to use mainly seawater from 2025.

In this way, MLP will be able to guarantee the availability of water for its operations and advance its studies into extending its operations beyond 2035, when its current environmental permits expire, it said.

The submission to the Environmental Impact Assessment System (SEIA) also considers Minera Los Pelambres (MLP), the operating entity, building a new concentrate transportation system with modern control systems, routed away from the most populated areas. This will allow maintenance to be carried out without interfering with the daily life of the surrounding communities.

The 60%-owned mine produced 363,400 t of copper in 2019, alongside 11,200 t of molybdenum and 59,700 oz of gold.

Iván Arriagada, CEO of Antofagasta Minerals, said: “We are going to invest in works that allow us to adapt our operation to the changes that have occurred in the Choapa province and the region over the last 20 years as a result of the prolonged drought caused by climate change and the increase in its population and productive activity.

“This is a key step in the future of Los Pelambres.”

Arriagada added: “We have a long-term strategic vision to extend the life of the operations while ensuring its continued coexistence with other productive activities in the province of Choapa. We are particularly interested in taking care of natural resources that are scarce today, such as water, and continuing to reduce our potential impact on the environment.”

This new stage of the company’s development, called Los Pelambres Futuro, also includes the contribution of the Los Pelambres Expansion project, which was 36% complete as at the end of June. A significant part of the work on the project was stopped as a result of COVID-19 and construction is now restarting in stages.

“We want to make minor adjustments to the design of the expansion project, which is already under construction, to facilitate the future expansion of the desalination plant,” Arriagada said. “In this way, there we will be less impact on the environment.”

It is estimated that the Operational Adaptation Investment (OAI) will be submitted to the SEIA in the first half of 2021. Its execution could begin in 2023, creating up to 2,000 jobs.

The OAI includes the expansion of the 400 litre/s desalination plant, currently being built in Punta Chungo, and the industrial quality desalinated water supply system, to 800 litres/s.

Mauricio Larraín, General Manager of MLP, said: “If our investment proposal is approved, in the coming years we could stop extracting water from the Choapa River and nearby wells, and more than 95% of the water used by Los Pelambres will either come from the sea or will be recirculated water.”

This plan could see MLP become the first mining company in the central zone of Chile to operate predominantly with seawater.

“The decision to use desalinated water is an idea that arose from dialogue with nearby communities and authorities and seemed to us to be the best way that we could contribute to easing the water scarcity challenges in this part of the country that affects us all,” Larraín said.

The company, which currently has environmental permits to extract water from the Choapa River until 2035, has worked for years with its neighbours and the authorities on the water management of the Choapa Valley. This work will continue in the future with the objective of promoting the sustainable use of the available water and strengthening the Rural Drinking Water systems for human consumption, the company said.

Lastly, the Environmental Impact Study will include some continuity and maintenance works for the tailings system. These works are already included in the Environmental Qualification Resolution (RCA) 38/2004 and consist of works on the north and south contour channels, repositioning pipes and other works.

Arriagada concluded: “This set of initiatives will require very significant investment in the province of Choapa over the next 10 years, close to $1 billion, and will also generate a significant number of jobs. It will also contribute towards helping the region and the country overcome the social and economic crisis generated by COVID-19 as soon as possible.”

Alaska Peninsula Corp signs up for Pebble transportation contract

Northern Dynasty Minerals’ wholly-owned US-based subsidiary, Pebble Limited Partnership, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop a consortium of Alaska Native village corporations as a major transportation contractor for the Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum project.

The MoU, signed this week with Alaska Peninsula Corporation (APC), positions APC to lead the development of a consortium of Alaska Native village corporations with land holdings along Pebble’s 82 mile (131 km) access route north of Lake Iliamna.

Once formalised, the consortium will provide various services to the future Pebble mine, with the contracts expected to exceed $20 million in value each year, according to Northern Dynasty.

The Pebble Partnership said the consortium would operate all related logistics for the project related to the proposed northern transportation corridor.

This would include managing port operations, maintaining the access road between the Pebble port and the Pebble mine site, and providing trucking and other logistics services between the two.

“The operation of this logistics chain is critical to the successful development of the Pebble project and this MoU is evidence of the strong support these village corporations have provided to Pebble over the past few years,” the Pebble Partnership said.

Ron Thiessen, Northern Dynasty President & CEO, said: “It has always been a core commitment of ours and the Pebble Partnership’s that this project benefit local communities and local people.

“As we move toward a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) this month and a Record of Decision later this summer, we are rolling out a series of programs and announcements to bring that commitment to life.”

Thiessen said the lead federal agency for Pebble’s permitting process, the US Army Corps of Engineers, has now signalled the Final EIS will be published later this month.

In the run-up to this milestone, the Pebble Partnership has announced the Pebble Performance Dividend initiative to distribute a 3% net profit royalty interest in the future Pebble mine to full-time residents of Bristol Bay, the initiation of a public consultation process for power sharing in the region, and now the formation of a major local contracting consortium.

Other benefits Pebble is expected to generate for the people of Bristol Bay and Alaska, according to Northern Dynasty, include:

  • Between 850-1,000 full-time, direct high-wage jobs and as many as 2,000 total jobs;
  • Up to $400 million annually in mine expenditures;
  • More than $50 million annually in state government revenues; and
  • Up to $20 million annually in revenues for the Lake & Peninsula Borough.

The PLP’s current plan for Pebble is to establish a 20-year open-pit operation with a circa-63 Mt/y average mining rate and a 163,260 t/d processing plant. This could lead to annual production of 555,991 t of copper-gold concentrate and 13,605 t of molybdenum concentrate.

AGQ Labs wins environmental monitoring contract with Minera Chinalco

AGQ Labs has won a contract to carry out environmental sample analysis services for Minera Chinalco Perú SA over the next three years.

Minera Chinalco owns the Toromocho open-pit copper mine in the Morococha district of Peru, situated 4,500 m above sea level. Toromocho will produce 1 Mt/y of copper concentrate, 10,000 t/y of molybdenum and 4 Moz/y of silver oxide, according to the company’s website.

Minera Chinalco is a subsidiary of Aluminum Corporation of China, the second largest alumina producer in the world and the third largest producer of primary aluminium.

The purpose of the AGQ Labs contract is to analyse environmental samples during the next three years in various environmental matrices, including:

  • Surface waters, in this matrix, will be determined in accordance with the environmental quality standards (ECAs), looking at, among other parameters, run of total metals, anions, cyanide, microbiological and hydrobiological, volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile, organochlorine pesticides, phosphors, carbamates and polychlorinated biphenyls;
  • Groundwater, among other parameters, will be analysed for metals, anions, cyanides, COD, microbiological elements;
  • Domestic and industrial wastewater, in accordance with the applicable legislation for the sector, will be analysed for, among other parameters, metals, anions, cyanides, coliforms, etc;
  • Drinking water, complying with 100% of DS 031-2010.SA, will be looked at for microbiological and parasitological, organoleptic, volatile, semi-volatile organic compounds, pesticides and alpha and beta radiation;
  • Air quality will be determined according to the applicable ECAs, among others PM10, PM2.5 particulate material, metals, gases and others;
  • Characterisation of soils – cover or top soil – where the study of agronomic characterisation, metal run, and others of relevance for the purpose will be made;
  • Soils and sediments, in order to verify compliance with the applicable ECAs, will be analysed for metal, hydrocarbons in the three fractions, volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, and other elements;
  • For environmental geochemistry, an ABA Test, and others will be determined;
  • Characterisation of mining waste, applying the current standard in accordance with the EPA standard and others, for flammability, corrosivity, reactivity, toxicity and pathogenicity. According to the test results, a judgment will be issued about the associated risk; and
  • Environmental monitoring of air quality parameters, electromagnetic radiation and day and night environmental noise will be examined in accordance with current regulations.

In this sense, Minera Chinalco is entrusting to AGQ Labs a specialised service for the monitoring and analysis of environmental samples, according to its experience and national accreditation, the company said.

Metso keeps Sierra Gorda analysers on stream

Metso says it is continuing to deliver a significant performance solutions contract at KGHM’s majority-owned Sierra Gorda copper-molybdenum mine, in Chile.

The services provided include preventive maintenance and calibration of Sierra Gorda’s eight on-stream analysers. The particle size analysers and chemical composition analysers, which are a core portion of the mine’s flotation process, play a vital role in controlling and optimising process performance, according to Metso.

As part of this agreement, Metso’s responsibilities include performing maintenance of the sample handling system, as well as the maintenance and calibration of the analysers. The two-year contract, which commenced in February 2019, includes daily, weekly and monthly tasks as well as stringent key performance indicators, it said. In this performance contract, Metso is evaluated on the ability to increase uptime and measurement accuracy.

Sierra Gorda is a joint venture project currently controlled by KGHM Polska Miedź SA (55%), Sumitomo Metal Mining (31.5%) and Sumitomo Corp (13.5%). Mining processes include ore blasting, loading and transport by haul trucks to a processing plant with an average throughout of 110,000 t/d of ore, where it is subjected to crushing and grinding processes. A plant with molybdenum concentrate separation is used for ore flotation.

Edgardo Chiappa, Plant Manager, Sierra Gorda SCM, KGHM Polska Miedz & Sumitomo Joint Venture, said: “The service provided by the Metso team demonstrates true professionalism, collaboration and teamwork. They have delivered high availability and accuracy of our on-stream analysers, consisting of Courier and PSI technology (both Outotec products). This has allowed for more timely operational decisions, aiding us in maximising process performance.

“We are really satisfied with the work Metso has delivered and look forward to our continued partnership.”

Giuseppe Campanelli, President, Minerals Services, Metso, said the company was proud to have had the opportunity to not only continue, but deepen, its partnership with Sierra Gorda.

“We greatly value this relationship as well as the confidence that they have shown in our ability to service such a key piece of their process,” he said.

Metso has been systematically expanding its service offering in the Chile and Pacific Rim mining markets, with the service organisation’s ability to deliver and sustain performance improvements within the mining industry based on this additional focus on maintenance, technology and process expertise.

Hudbay’s Rosemont copper project moves forward with 404 Water Permit

The US Army Corps of Engineers has issued a Section 404 Water Permit for Hudbay Minerals’ Rosemont copper project in the US, the mining company says.

Rosemont has already received the Final Record of Decision from the US Forest Service (USFS), a process that involved 17 co-operating agencies at various levels of government, 16 hearings, over 1,000 studies, and 245 days of public comment resulting in more than 43,000 comments.

The company said: “Now that the 404 permit has been issued, Hudbay expects to receive Rosemont’s Mine Plan of Operations from the USFS shortly and looks forward to moving the project into development.”

Rosemont, around 48 km southeast of Tucson, Arizona, is envisaged as an open-pit mine producing copper, molybdenum and silver. It is expected to have an annual average life of mine copper production of 112,000 tons (101,605 t).

The Rosemont site will include a processing plant and associated facilities, transmission lines for power and water, the pit, and waste rock and dry-stack tailings storage facilities.

“Best available demonstrated control technologies will be the hallmark of Rosemont,” Hudbay said. “These technologies will contribute to maximising production while minimising environmental impact. At Rosemont, this will include the use of dry-stack tailings – a technology that significantly reduces water use and improves reclamation – along with leading-edge lighting designs to maintain dark skies, solar energy as a source of power, dust collectors with cartridge filters and trucks with Tier 4 engines to ensure compliance with air quality standards.”

Alan Hair, Hudbay’s President and CEO, said: “The receipt of Rosemont’s 404 Water Permit is a major milestone in our efforts to build a modern mine that will fulfil the requirements of its permits, create jobs and provide benefits for all of our stakeholders.

“We appreciate the diligence that the Army Corps has put into its consideration of Rosemont’s permit application, and look forward to advancing Rosemont into construction.”

Hudbay said it would continue to execute its plan regarding the Rosemont project and provide updates as developments warrant.