The question arises, why is copper important in human life? What are its uses, and why is copper exploration necessary? Copper is the most important element on the earth and in human lives. The second-largest producer of copper is in the USA. The major mines are found in Arizona, New Mexico, and Montana. Chile and Peru are the major producers of copper. Copper has various uses in everyday household tasks. For Example:
- Water pipes
- Electronic devices
- Construction of vehicles
- Making of coins
These are just a few applications of copper. Its actual uses are much more.
The final form of copper goes through different stages to be able to use for everyday objects. Copper is either present in pure form or extracted from its ores and alloys. Copper exploration is a crucial matter of humankind. Copper is usually found in igneous and sedimentary rocks. Copper is also present on the earth’s crust and also in oceans but in negligible amounts.
Moreover, copper ores are widely found in Ecuador, where multiple great mining companies, including Solaris Resources Inc, are developing projects for copper exploration.
Exploration of copper is done in two ways.
Mining has three common methods.
- Underground Mining: This method extracts ore from below the surface of the earth. The sinking shafts are placed to the appropriate levels, and then adits are driven so that shafts reach the ore. It is an expensive method and efficient to explore rich ores.
- Open-pit Mining: This type of mining is done directly on the ground level, so it produces an open pit. The method initially removes soil and rock from the ore via the process of drilling. Solaris Resources uses this mining method to mine copper at its Warintza mining project in Ecuador. Furthermore, this type of mining is used when:
- Ores are extensive in the area
- Near the surface levels
- Low in grade
- In-situ Mining: This method extracts copper through boreholes drilled into a deposit.
The copper from its ores are extracted and explored by the following steps:
- Grinding: Crush and ground the ores so that copper particles get free.
- Concentrating: Particles are floated by air injection.
- Ore is suspended in water, and agitation is carried out.
- These three steps yield approximately 30% copper.
- Roasting: Then it is fed to a furnace to remove iron and sulfur impurities.
- Blister copper obtained after furnacing is fire-refined to yield pure copper.
- Electrolyte refining: Final refining is done to remove gold and silver by electrolytic cells.
- 99% pure copper is obtained, which is called an Electrolytic Tough Pitch (ETP).
Benefits of Copper Extraction
- Waste gases are not produced
- More economical
- Fewer energy requirements
- It can be operated on small scales too.
Almost everything about copper exploration and its methods has been described. The importance of copper in life and daily usable things is so much that it’s necessary to extract and explore copper as much as possible.