Innovation in the Copper Industry
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Jan 1, 1998
Mining and extraction methods in the copper industry use basic technologies developed over a period of almost 150 years. Paradigm shifts in the industry have been rare, yet human involvement in the activities has changed dramatically. Clearly defined extraction paths have become more blurred as economic considerations broke down the barriers that had encouraged specialization. What had been a labor-intensive industry unfettered by environmental restrictions was forced to change. Better productivity and "cleaner" operations resulted in much higher capital costs on a plant basis. Many of the changes were truly innovative in the same spirit as in the mining revolution of the first decade of the twentieth century. What role will innovation play in the next 20 years as lower-grade, mixed-metal orebodies are exploited in more remote locations?