Mining experts confer at copper conference


Experts from industry, government and academia will converge on Adelaide to discuss the latest developments in one of South Australia’s biggest businesses: copper mining.

On Friday 1 October the annual assembly of the Premier’s Research and Industry Fund (PRIF) Consortium Unlocking Complex Resources through Lean Processing will discuss how to improve every stage of copper mining from resource definition to processing.

“Our Consortium has experts who are undertaking projects that apply mathematical modelling and computer science to guide optimisation of mining and mineral processing and which focus on specific areas of interest to our industry end-user partners BHP Olympic Dam and OZ Minerals,” said the University of Adelaide’s Professor Nigel Cook, Director of the Consortium and Chair of the assembly.

“Our researchers aim to increase efficiency, maximise copper production, use less energy and water, and have lower environmental impact at every stage of the mining value chain by using machine learning, sensors and data analytics, and technology solutions.”

Copper is the leading commodity produced in South Australia with vast resources. The state, which hosts 68 per cent of Australia’s copper resources, is a major producer and exporter, currently attracting hundreds of companies, including global players, who are exploring, developing and mining copper.

The biggest global demand for copper comes from the electrical industry. Other major markets are the motor vehicle and construction sectors. Copper is also an integral part of the expanding information technology sector such as computers, mobile phones and TVs. The rapid development of the electric vehicle sector is currently driving a surge in copper demand which is expected to continue, with experts predicting a three-fold increase in global demand by 2050.

“Innovative research undertaken by our experts can have far-reaching benefits not just for the copper industry but other minerals processing businesses in South Australia and also globally.”Professor Nigel Cook

By 2023, global copper production from existing and proposed mines is projected to be about 270,000 tonnes short of demand. This is based on a year-on-year increase in global demand for copper, and steady decline in existing mine production.

“In many – perhaps most – parts of the world, ‘easier’ resources have already been accessed. In order to meet projected global demand for copper, as well as other critical minerals, we must assist our industry partners to sustainably extract the complex resources still available to us,” said Professor Cook.

PRIF Consortium Board members the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia are leading the Copper for Tomorrow Coperative Research Centre bid in 2022 to help industry sustainably extract complex resources. PRIF Chair, Gavin Yeates, who is also chair of the bid will present at the conference.

The consortium’s experts aim to:

  • Assist industry partners to maximise value from complex resources and minimise environmental impact;
  • Develop innovative, effective tools to help integrate each stage of copper production from the resource stage, to mining, ore delivery, processing and leaching stages;
  • Optimise the mining process by decreasing variability and increasing certainty on the ore that is fed to the mill where it is processed;
  • Deliver data-driven models that interpret existing and new sensor information, and use machine learning to help refine resource and process models; and
  • Commercialise technological outcomes for industry partners in global markets.

“Innovative research undertaken by our experts can have far-reaching benefits not just for the copper industry but other minerals processing businesses in South Australia and also globally,” said Professor Cook.

“Efficiency gains at each stage of the mining value chain have significant impact on the viability of the copper industry and can be translated across the mining of complex resources.”

For further information about the consortium visit:

Tagged in featured story, copper, mining