Talk:Copper extraction techniques

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Removed the following maesde up section from article:

===Orebody discovery===
<!-- I'm just making this up, feel free to correct me-->
Geologists discover copper ore deposits by examining rocks on the surface. If they are green, that means copper oxides and a deposit below. Drilling is undertaken to determine the size of, and proportion of copper in (the grade), the orebody zones. If the copper ore deposits is typical, it will be described in terms of the number of tonnes (and the grade) of ore in each of the oxide, secondary and primary zones. The tonnes and grade can be multipled together to determine the amount of copper in the deposit, and the processing costs for each zone can be used to determine mine profitability.

Geologists don't just look for green rocks. We can do a bit better than that:-) Maybe I'll give it a go later, but for now let's leave out the fictitious green rock bit. Vsmith 02:20, 12 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I'm unsure how to make changes to the original article, so if you are able, then please put this in there;

In the Concentration section there is the following statement;

"Ground ore is mixed with xanthate reagents (for example, pine oil)"

This is true, however reagents other than xanthates are commonly used. Another common class of collector are dithiophosphates. Also used are thionocarbamates.

I can't figure out how to edit the photo caption "The El Chino open-pit copper mine in New Mexico" This should read "Chino open-pit copper mine in New Mexico" or "The Chino..." Note that it's correctly-captioned on the blowup page. Pete Tillman, 18:34, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Fixed that for ya. saimhe 21:47, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Pyro section[edit]

I'm sorry, I'm in a complaining mood tonight: What happened in 2005 to make roasting so unpopular? This answer is nothing, and I'm being silly. But why say "as of 2005" as if there was some sort of change then? Anyway... partial roasting was done upstream of reverberatory furnaces or submerged arc electric furnaces to control the matte chemistry. Reverbs had environmental and thermal inefficiency problems. Electric furnaces are subject to electricity prices, and it's economics that hurt there. Flash smelting is now preferred because you essentially partial roast in the feed section, and the roasting reactions(sometimes helped out with fuel oil combustion) provide the heat for smelting. In a way, the flash smelter is simply a design that combines a roaster and a smelter in the same furnace. I'm not very familiar with the El Teniente furnace, but isn't that considered a converter, rather than a smelting furnace? And finally (you thought this gripe would never end), defining an anode furnace as a furnace that makes anodes is not very instructive. Besides, the anodes are "made" on the casting wheel outside the furnace. Just complaining tonight, I'll try and make some corrections soon. (I need to refresh my memory on the El Teniente converter, and maybe get some info on the Noranda reactor to throw in for good measure.) BSMet94 06:46, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Name change[edit]

This article is a little unwieldy and far-reaching to my mind. Copper extraction obviously involves a lot of things related to many wide and varied subjects, a lot of which actually have nothing to do with the extraction per se, of copper. This, sadly includes;

  • All of the geology and formation of copper orebodies

In essence, copper extraction is a process involving a subset of other processes, chief amongst them being two things;

  • Mining - which can be covered elsewhere, c.f. open cast mine
  • Metallurgy - the bulk of the page.

I would therefore propose that "copper extraction" could be renamed "copper refining" or similar, and the sections on the geology and primary/secondary/oxide ore classification moved off and left as links to other subjects/topics. After all, the nature of the ore only matters for extraction as far as the refining or metallurgy is concerned - they are almost always mined (aka "extracted" from the Earth in exactly the same two ways. Rolinator 01:48, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Agreed and removed the fromation/mining sections. Do we need a name change? Copper extraction from ores? Vsmith 03:18, 22 July 2007 (UTC)
Yes I agree - "copper extraction and purification", "copper extraction and refining", "copper prodution" or similar. Electrorefining is not technically extraction in one interpretation.
How about copper metallurgy? Rolinator (talk) 10:45, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
Surely it's not metallurgy until it becomes a metal - much of the article refers to ore concentration etc - which is probably a different subject.
Copper Metallurgy is a great title for an article, and one that should be written at some point, but not a great title for this one. currently there are copper and copper alloys articles.

Entire books have been written on the extractive metallurgy of copper. "Metallurgy" in its broadest sense covers everything from mineral processing through making the finished product (wire, sheet, whatever). The engineer in charge of a copper mill (i.e. crushing, grinding, and flotation) is called a metallurgist. I'd say "extraction" stops at the cathode. That's when the metallurgy transitions from extractive metallurgy (i.e. physico-chemical) to physical metallurgy. My two cents on the subject. We should leave the article as is, add and clarify as we see fit. That's etter than complaining about what should or shouldn't be in the article (I'm as guilty as the rest of you, I know).BSMet94 (talk) 04:55, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

If you really want to change the name of the article, a better one would be simply "Copper Extraction". The article has a lot of theory in it, as well as techniques. Anyone agree???BSMet94 (talk) 15:13, 21 April 2009 (UTC)
I dont really see any fault in the title - it says what the article is about.FengRail (talk) 19:33, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

Environmental Impact of Copper Mining[edit]

It'd be great if someone could add a section to this page on the environmental impact of copper mining. —Preceding unsigned comment added by ChelseaH (talkcontribs) 05:30, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

Bad Math[edit]

Copper has a density of 89.4 g/cc, so a 100 cm by 100 cm by 1 cm plate of pure copper will weigh 89.4 kilograms. It is therefore unlikely that a 96cm by 96cm by 1cm plate of copper will weigh 100 kilograms, as previously stated in the article.

Commodity copper is about a meter square by 1 centimeter thick weighing about 200 lbs. I have changed the article to reflect this.

89.4 kilograms, at 2.2 pounds per kilograms, is 196 pounds, which is about 200 pounds. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:32, 6 March 2009 (UTC)


what does " It is a true commodity, deliverable to the metal exchanges in New York, London and Shanghai" mean - is this even true - do lorries deliver copper bar to the stock exchanges?


This article (or copper) doesn't make it clear - is all copper used today purified by electrolysis by use - is any blister copper etc used for alloy manufacture?FengRail (talk) 20:39, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

To answer part one; no, and yes. LME warehouses do physically exist, but even the "inventory" quoted on the LME is not a true reflection of the physical stock in hand at the physical locations of the LME warehouses. The vast majority of physical copper moves either from mine to smelter-refiner and on to customer (in the case of sulphide sources) or mine to customer in the case of producers of 99.999% copper cathode. Some does go to the LME warehouse, but most of the LME traded copper is handled on warrants and receipts, so the copper doesn't have to physically leave the mine or refiner before being shipped direct to the customer. Its mostly irrelevant what happens to it in the distribution chain anyway. I'll have a look at whether it needs a rewrite.
Secondly, the vast majority of copper sourced from sulphides is purified via electrolysis. I'm not sure that unpurified copper is used in manufacturing of alloys. Cathode copper can be used directly in wire lants or piping without further refining. Rolinator (talk) 06:49, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
This very old book (1912) ("Modern Copper Smelting") states that electrolytic, and two non electrochemicallly obtained coppers are used "Tough Pitch furnace refined Copper" and "Best Select Copper",M1
I'd guess that electrolytic refining has supercede many processes mentioned in this book, but can't find a history. (talk) 13:42, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Oxidised copper ore vs Copper oxide ore[edit]

Oxidised copper ore bodies are copper ore bodies which are oxidised in a geological sense. Not a chemical sense. ie; they are products of oxidation of reduced copper minerals (sulphides) to "oxide" minerals such as carbonates, within the regolith. This is still reduced in a chemical sense, although I may point out that most Cu is as Cu2+ in chalcopyrite and also in most oxide minerals. Chemical oxidation state has very little to do with this definition.

If we say it is a copper oxide ore body, we are specifically saying they are ores of copper oxide, ie cuprite. That is not strictly correct. In fact, its not even remotely correct. Therefore, I have reversed the edit back to say oxidised copper. I will accept Oxide copper. Rolinator (talk) 13:16, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

(Moved down - newer posts at the bottom)
You must mean this
Just to clarify - "oxidised copper ore bodies" usually means ores in which a former sulphide (or other telluride etc rare) - has been oxidised - eventually precipitating as carbonate or whatever.
ie the copper is not oxidised at all (confusingly) (unless it was Cu(I) which must be rare)- but the other part of the mineral.
I think a link to an Ore body oxidation article would be helpful, but I can't find one, and aren't much of an expert.FengRail (talk) 05:57, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

Total crap![edit]

The first version of this article was called Copper extraction from chalcopyrite. It was created by (talk · contribs) on 16 July 2004 and expanded by Svenny (talk · contribs) a few weeks later. After some copyediting and wikifying the article reached it peak in this version on 11 March 2005. The article desribes a multi-stage process of pyrometallurgical extraction. A perfectly nice little article — except that the information is totally outdated! Today flash smelting, a single stage process, is exclusively used for copper extraction from chalcopyrite, as stated in this edit by Adam Johnston (talk · contribs).

The integrity of the article has furter been compromiaed by insertion of material not related to sulphur-containing ores, including a section on oxide ores. It is however imposible to distinguish which parts of the text are related to sulphur-containing which to oxide ores. The distinction was perhaps more explicit in this version form 9 July 2007, but the third of the article on the different ores was removed. Something readable was still available in this version on 22 March 2009, but this "update and reorganisation" on 5 April 2009 totally messed up the article. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 09:54, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

P.S. This edit by a possible vandal on 5 February 2007 removed the section on roasting. I have restored the section. Roasting is outdated, but removing it does not make the other parts valided, it just makes the chemical reaction incomplete!

-- Petri Krohn (talk) 10:59, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

The name was changed and a more general subject was created. Are you proposing that copper extraction needs to be split up into numerous articles, one for each type of ore? I suppose you're going to spearhead that effort as well? Good luck with that! This article was contributed to in good faith, and you'll get little or no support for a major revert, as you seem to be suggesting.
We agree that the article on copper extraction from chalcopyrite as of March 2005 was outdated (so why you say it reached its peak at that point is beyond me). But I have a few comments for you: 1) information on historic processes that have been abandoned should still be available in some form; and 2) never say never--are you sure when you say that today flash smelting is "exclusively used for copper extraction from chalcopyrite"? Exclusive is a strong word. I do believe that at least one Noranda reactor is still in operation, and are you sure that no chalcopyrites are processed using a lance-type furnace (El Teniente, TBRC, IsaSmelt, etc.)?
Yes, at this point, the article is rather disjointed, and needs work. Why don't we all put in a few minutes, and update the article (with references!). Then we can have a nice, concise, encyclopedia level article that doesn't try to rewrite the book on Copper Extraction.BSMet94 (talk) 04:25, 8 May 2009 (UTC)
This is supposed to be a general article about the extraction of copper metal from its ores. It ought to cover both the latest methods and historic ones. I consider the present length about right for a general article. If there is material that has got lost and should be there, it can of course be added back, but this should be done by editing it in, not by reverting over two years back. The detail of specific processes can be added, usuing "see also" or "main" templates. This provides a tree of articles, going from the general to the detailed. I have added such a link on Roasting. Peterkingiron (talk) 15:58, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

Copper recovery from wastewater[edit]

The biofuel cell made by Annemiek Ter Heijne can be used to retrieve copper from wastewater. This would increase yields, and more importantly, reduce the amount of cupper that comes into large rivers/lakes from the mine. See ,

add to article KVDP (talk) 13:30, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

Problems with the article[edit]

I chanced across this article when looking for an explanation of "blister copper" in Wikipedia. It has some problems. For a start, the comment that it is about historical extraction techniques doesn't seem to accord with the content.

Secondly, the heading "Blister copper extraction" is kind of meaningless. Blister copper is a step along the route to the production of copper metal that precedes fire refining. I changed the title to "Sulfide smelting".

Froth flotation is probably better separated from smelting, as it can be a precursor to leaching as well.

I don't have time at the moment, but I will get back to this page at some time in the future and fix the major issues.

By way of explanation, I worked in copper smelters for almost 20 years and have a modicum of understanding of the processes used.ChrisFountain (talk) 07:05, 25 June 2013 (UTC)