Research hub to add billions to Australia's copper industry

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The University of Adelaide has today launched a major new research hub that will add significant value to Australia’s $6 billion-a-year copper industry.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium, based at the University of Adelaide, involves key industry, university and government partners in South Australia and nationally.

Among the aims of the hub are to: find new ways of removing other metals from copper deposits, which can reduce the quality of the copper; and ensure these new methods are suitable for industry-level operations.

“Much of South Australia's copper deposits are actually very fine intergrowths of a range of different metals and minerals. This introduces additional technical challenges for industry, which needs to achieve high-purity copper concentrates ready for market,” says Professor Stephen Grano, Director of the new ARC Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium.

“Being able to find cost-effective ways of removing other metals from copper concentrates will provide a boost to the industry's economic prosperity, as well as its environmental sustainability. This work will help to ensure Australia is a world leader in copper production and associated technology,” Professor Grano says.

The ARC awarded $2.52 million to the University of Adelaide to establish the research hub. In addition, industry partners are contributing a further $5.55 million in cash and in-kind support over five years.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Warren Bebbington, says: “This new research hub will translate our mining research into real economic outcomes for the State.

"The strong support from the resource sector and government illustrates its importance for the future of industry,” Professor Bebbington says.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis has welcomed the new ARC Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium, which he said would provide a boost for one of South Australia’s most significant commodities.

“One of our key economic priorities is to unlock the full potential of our mineral resources, which is why the State Government is contributing $500,000 over four years towards the testing and commercialisation of safe and cost-effective ways of separating uranium from copper concentrates,” Mr Koutsantonis says.

“As one of the world’s largest copper producers, maximising the value of copper ore is of enormous benefit to the State’s economy.”

The ARC Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium is led by the University of Adelaide’s Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources. It is funded by the Australian Government through the ARC’s Industrial Transformation Research Hubs scheme.

Partners include mining companies BHP Billiton and OZ Minerals, the Department of State Development, Defence Science and Technology Group, Environment Protection Authority South Australia, Flinders University, Monash University, University College London (UCL) Australia, and the University of Queensland.


Contact Details

Professor Stephen Grano
Director, ARC Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium
Director, Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0626
Mobile: +61 (0)451 631 207

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762