Geochemists, process engineers, technology specialists and sensor experts are all working together at IMER with national and international collaborators and industry partners to address this challenge.
Complex ores, those with more than one economic mineral (e.g. copper and gold), are challenging to process as each mineral has unique chemical properties that require a specific ‘workflow’ to extract the metals. South Australia has some of the most complex mineral systems in the world, including the iron oxide-copper-gold-uranium ore deposits at Olympic Dam. Processing and separating different gases is also becoming more of a challenge as alternative fuels and natural resources are developed.
IMER is addressing the challenge of complex processing with interdisciplinary research teams to:
- understand the conditions where minerals formed;
- understand the movement of minerals in both solid and liquid phases, i.e. in ores, concentrates, solutions and suspensions;
- map where minerals are in a rock without the need to break it up, and inform mining and processing operations in real time;
- develop new techniques to detect and remove non-target metals;
- improve heap leach technology and mineral extraction.
Our interdisciplinary teams
Hub researchers are using their knowledge of the complex distribution of minerals to develop a cost effective process to reject non-target metals from copper concentrates.
FOX Project Trace elements in iron oxides: deportment, distribution and application in ore genesis, geochronology, exploration and mineral processing–is investigating the trace element signatures of iron oxides.