BASF and Moleaer™ Inc have announced an exclusive partnership to combine expertise in mineral processing, hydrometallurgy, gas transfer and nanobubble technology to develop what they say are innovative processes for mining.
The initial aim is to target the copper leaching process and improve extraction rates of copper ores containing high levels of chalcopyrite, which have historically been difficult to leach.
The companies explained: “Copper is extracted from primary sulphide ores through a flotation process and low-grade ores are traditionally discarded because they are too costly to process. Currently, an alternative hydrometallurgical heap leach process is employed for low-grade oxide and secondary sulphide ores. It is, however, very difficult to leach primary sulfide ores, such as chalcopyrite, which leads to low recovery efficiencies.”
Based on test work conducted by BASF, Moleaer’s nanobubble technology improves the extraction process of valuable metals such as copper.
When combined with BASF’s LixTRA™ reagent, the mineral recovery rates and efficiencies are compounded, especially in sulphide-based ores, such as chalcopyrite, they claim.
Caren Hoffman, who leads the global mining solutions business at BASF, stated: “Technological improvements and collaborations like the one we announced today are essential if the industry is to maximise the recovery of copper at existing mines. By combining BASF’s LixTRA reagent, allowing greater ore-lixiviant contact, together with Moleaer’s nanobubble technology to facilitate a higher oxidative environment, we offer technology to the industry to significantly increase copper recoveries.”
Nick Dyner, CEO of Moleaer, added: “We look forward to working with BASF, a global leader in mineral extraction chemistry, to improve the recovery of copper and help support the green economy. This important collaboration comes at a time when the ability of mining copper is only getting more costly and challenging. Moleaer’s nanobubble technology will allow the mining industry to improve the efficiency and efficacy in existing mines and narrow the gap between supply and demand of copper.”