TECHNOLOGY, ECONOMY AND RAW MATERIALS
Growth, technological advances, social development and prices of services like power consumption, and other factors have an effect on the extraction of raw materials, making it so that each job requires a different methodology, from the legal field to the miner‘s pickaxe.
This often makes it very difficult to measure the profitability of materialssince these factors are influenced by a series of variables, such as market conditions, investments, job stability, societal reactions, proof of sustainability, or geographic location, which can influence other factors like the availability of water.
All these variable elements in mining make it so that when it comes to extracting and transforming raw materials, we can either find setbacks or advantages. In this respect, there are examples in which recent economic and technological changeshave made it possible to benefit from metallic resources that were before unusable, such as settling basins containing tin and tantalum at the mine in Penouta, Orense, where Strategic Minerals Spainoperates.
Today we are going to focus on technology, since it has become the main cause of change for miningwith regard to raw materials, especially because of the capacity to increase the range of usable minerals, which has positive consequences in many areas, such as the environment, profitability of mines and even their lifespan.
Among the notable proposals that were put forward during the International Congress on Energy and Mineral Resources in April of 2018 in Seville, is that of the ITMA Foundation, in Asturias, which among its area of work has two promising projects: the purification of metallurgical grade silicon and the development of reinforced metal matrix foams using fly ash. Another interesting proposal was that of Aceralia (Grupo Arcelor), which focuses its use in the construction of offshore wind turbines that would suppose an endless, economical and long-term source of energy.
Lastly, progress in hydrometallurgical technology is one of the most relevant issues in technological advances for the treatment of raw materials. Cobre Las Cruces is one of the mines that has made the most advances in this field, along with Atlantic Copper.
Ideas and suggestions are there, and they are also created by the factors that influence the use of raw materials. In the case of technology, it is essential for the processes of manufacturing new materials to be both environmentally sustainable, which is already being achieved, and economical, which brings us back to the beginning of the problem. However, mining consultancies are here to think of different paths and solutions.
What is clear is that the path towards optimal mining, which is better for society and for the planet itself, is underway.