Modern Mining December 2022

informed decisions to be made earlier. This data-rich decision making is important for all minerals in today’s challenging mining environment, but even more so with copper. The difference between success and failure, between an economic and uneconomic deposit, is greater ore body knowledge, which will deliver improved processing intensity, less waste, less tail ings, less water use, and greater overall efficiencies. Mining companies able to access reliable data as early as possible at each step of the mining value chain from exploration and drilling, to planning and production, will be in the best position to meet the challenges. It won’t solve the supply deficit, but it may help to ease it — and may unlock some of the world’s stranded copper assets. 

Consultants Wood Mackenzie last month esti mated that a US$23-billion investment a year is needed over 30 years to deliver new copper proj ects to reach zero-carbon targets. In its report Red Metal, Green Demand Wood Mackenzie says that analysis shows that 9.7-million tonnes of new copper supply is needed over 10 years from projects yet to be sanctioned, equivalent to nearly a third of current refined consumption, if the industry is to meet the Paris Climate Agreement targets. There is merit in Freeport McMoRan’s call for US Government to add copper to its official list of critical minerals. A recent S&P Platts report said that if cop per shortfalls follow projected trends, climate goals would be “short-circuited and remain out of reach”. BloombergNEF says copper demand is expected to increase 53 per cent by 2040, against an increase in supply of just 16 per cent. This alarming outlook is why IMDEX is support ing Copper for Tomorrow, a dedicated cooperative research centre established to focus on research and development priorities to solve challenges across the copper value chain. The aim is to solve the copper paradox – how to produce the copper needed for a low carbon society while dealing with lower grade ores, without using more energy and water, and producing more waste. It will do this through new research and technol ogy that will:  Dramat ical ly improve copper mining and production.  Create processes that move copper production towards zero emissions, waste, and footprint.  Incorporate evolving ESG factors into business processes. IMDEX is invested in finding answers to mod ern mining challenges. Our commodity agnostic geoscience-lead solutions seek to provide answers that unravel complex ore bodies, allowing for more

Above: Industry is facing a copper supply crisis.

Left: Copper demand is expected to far outstrip supply.

Mining companies are attempting to mine copper with speed to meet demand required for decarbonisation targets, the EV market and power transmission networks..

December 2022  MODERN MINING  13

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