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BHP's planned Olympic Dam expansion to increase output of copper ¦ Amendments to exclusion periods for WPA access zones, issued February 2019 ¦ Mineral Resources Division is now based at level 4, 11 Waymouth Street, Adelaide 5000

Copper in the spotlight

Copper to the World conference.

Positive market indications for copper, the latest technology innovations in exploration and production and the emerging demand for ethically sourced copper featured at the recent Copper to the World conference in Adelaide.

There was a real buzz as 300 delegates listened to global copper experts from South America, North America and Europe, together with highly regarded speakers from Australian industry, research institutions, government and Indigenous Business Australia, describe the opportunities and challenges for the copper sector.

The Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, opened the conference outlining South Australia’s potential for investment, jobs and exports growth across the copper supply chain.

Vanessa Davidson, Director of Copper Research and Strategy, CRU. (Photo 416701)
Vanessa Davidson (Director of Copper Research and Strategy, CRU) presenting the opening key note address at the Copper to the World conference. Vanessa flagged that long-term prospects are positive. (Photo 416701)

Vanessa Davidson, Director of Copper Research and Strategy, CRU, and Patricio Hidalgo, General Manager of Marketing BHP, provided detailed analysis of the copper outlook. The main message was that the move to electric vehicles and rising power consumption across the globe are expected to drive growth in the global copper market. At the same time, existing copper reserves need further development and new resources discovered to enable supply to meet the predicted future demand.

An absolute highlight was the Innovation and Technology session hosted by the International Copper Association Australia. Newcrest Mining inspired with its trail-blazing approach to rolling out digital transformation projects. BHP mine announced a world first pilot of electric-powered Toyota Land Cruisers serving the underground areas of the Olympic Dam Mine, part of a global initiative to improve health and safety and to reduce emissions. OZ Minerals shared technology plans informing the design and function of the Carrapateena Mine, supported by its partnering approach to build capabilities and a culture of innovation. The International Copper Association threw out the challenge to explore the potential of Venture Capital funds to support companies in commercialising their copper processing innovations.

Copper to the World’s at-capacity audience were keen to ask questions during panel discussion and question times. (Photo 416702)
Copper to the World’s at-capacity audience were keen to ask questions during panel discussion and question times. (Photo 416702)

Complementing this session were two thought-provoking presentations by Dr Keith McLean of CSIRO on trends in metals industry manufacturing and by Dr Ross Haywood on the trends in copper smelting to reduce costs and energy use.

The audience also learnt about the current review of the Coexistence Framework for the Woomera Prohibited Area and how the rules for access are currently administered.

Other high points included:

  • Andres Pesce sharing Fundacion Chile’s open innovation platform for mining collaboration between mining equipment, technology and services (METS) companies and the major miners.
  • Jorge Cantallopts of the Chilean Copper Commission outlining the emerging trend of manufacturers seeking responsibly sourced copper for their products.
  • Kim Ferguson, the Chair of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Closure Working Group, talking about the challenges and expectations for effective mine closure practices.
  • Phil McFadden of UNCOVER Australia and Joe Cucuzza, of AMIRA International sharing the trends and challenges for exploration and discovery in Australia.
  • Eddie Fry, Chair, Indigenous Business Australia, challenging the audience to consider how to engage Indigenous communities and businesses in their projects at the earliest possible stage of a project.
  • South Australian companies Hillgrove Resources and Havilah Resources highlighting the potential of their copper projects in the Adelaide Hills region and Curnamona Craton respectively.

Twenty-four exhibitors from across the copper value chain supported the conference by showcasing their products and services and giving delegates ideas on how to improve productivity in their projects.

The value of the ideas and debates presented at this world-class event has been confirmed with the subsequent publication of a number of articles in international and Australian trade mining media.

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– Charles Moore, Grace Taylor and Andrew Rowett, August 2018

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