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Aurubis get insight into copper smelting

Aurubis AG, with its headquarters in Germany, is one of the world’s major copper producers. Their Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) team is always seeking ways to increase efficiency in processing more and more complex raw materials.

“Knowledge of the behaviour of feed/product materials at various process stages provides important guidance for any modification or new design of the process flow. Careful characterisation of materials produced in these stages is one of the first steps towards building the knowledge base.” says Dr Ata Fallah, Senior Manager of Pyrometallurgical Process Characterisation, RDI at Aurubis AG.

Microscopy Australia at the Australian National University has provided microscopic level analysis by using electron microprobe and QEMSCAN analysis to characterize Aurubis’s materials during the copper smelting process.

Images from this commercial work are confidential, so the example above comes from an unrelated copper smelter. The image shows the complex microstructure and mineralogy of some waste material. The bright spherical particles are valuable copper remaining in the slag after “extraction”. Microanalysis like this helps plant engineers to make informed decisions on how to minimise copper loss in the smelting processes.

More accurate information on metal loss and element behaviour can be obtained using these microanalysis techniques than by the bulk analysis methods conventionally used at metallurgical processing plants. Microscopy Australia’s advanced micro-imaging and microanalysis facilities empower problem-solving at the industrial level, letting Aurubis maximise value from its processes.