Copper is expected to be in high demand in the coming decades due to the emergence of wind and solar technologies, which require about five times as much copper as fossil energy sources. Copper, however, is expected to be in short supply in the coming decades due to the high costs associated with the mining, concentrating, and processing of copper ore. New technologies are greatly needed to sustainably provide cheap copper refined domestically rather than produced by smelting overseas.
Still Bright is developing a patented hydrometallurgical process that enables the fastest conversion of concentrated copper ore to refined copper observed to date at room temperature and pressure. The rapid reaction rates and ambient conditions correlate to low capital costs and operating costs, respectively. The process leverages electrochemical technologies prevalent in other industries to carry out the reaction chemistry. Powering this conversion with renewable energy significantly reduces the carbon footprint of copper production.
The process at full scale will produce 1,000 tonnes of copper per day to extend the material’s availability for several decades. In addition, this process will enable more domestic production of copper, reduce risks in the supply chain, and decrease the amount of energy used to transport concentrated copper ore overseas. Lastly, this process will expand processing to currently nonviable feedstocks, improve the recovery of critical materials, and prevent the release of environmentally deleterious byproducts