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GEO SCIENCE

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    With this you will get a better understanding what they are trying to achieve from RH plant .
    To what other mines are not taking into account ie critical commodities..
    RH to be able to extract all of whats there '';;

    Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia: The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science: The Hon Craig Laundy MP Secretary: Ms Glenys Beauchamp PSM
    Geoscience Australia Chief Executive Officer: Dr James Johnson This paper is published with the permission of the CEO, Geoscience Australia
    © Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) 2017
    With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms and where otherwise noted, this product is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode)
    Geoscience Australia has tried to make the information in this product as accurate as possible. However, it does not guarantee that the information is totally accurate or complete. Therefore, you should not solely rely on this information when making a commercial decision.
    Geoscience Australia is committed to providing web accessible content wherever possible. If you are having difficulties with accessing this document please email [email protected]

    Executive summary
    Critical commodities, which by definition include commodities that are both economically important and have a high risk of supply disruption, are present at varying levels in a range of Australian ore deposits, and, consequently, Australia has great potential as a source of these commodities for the global market.

    Many critical commodities are produced as by–products of major commodities, and their production is a consequence not only of grades, but also the existence of metallurgical processes whereby the critical commodities can be extracted economically from ores and concentrates.

    Production of critical commodities is a potential opportunity to extract additional value from Australia's existing mining sector. Some critical commodities are or have been extracted as main products or co– products from Australian ores (e.g. nickel, tungsten, tin, tantalum, lithium, antimony and chromium).

    Other critical commodities are currently extracted as by–products from Australian concentrates by smelters in Australia and overseas (e.g. cobalt, platinum group elements, gallium, cadmium, bismuth, selenium and tellurium).
    The viability of this by–product extraction is not only dependent on the technical and economic viability of by–product extraction, but also on the economics of the major commodity with which the by–product critical commodity is associated.

    Other critical commodities are known to be enriched in Australian mineral deposits, but are not currently produced. These include commodities that are extracted overseas and could be extracted from Australian deposits using existing technologies (e.g. vanadium, titanium, molybdenum and rhenium).

    This group also includes commodities that are enriched in Australian ores but are not currently extracted due to either economic or processing impediments (e.g. niobium, indium and germanium).
    Although there are several rare earth element deposits currently in production (e.g. Mount Weld), construction (e.g. Browns Range) or feasibility (e.g. Nolans), several major deposits in Australia are enriched in these elements, although they are not extracted.
    The best example of this is the Olympic Dam deposit, which is the second largest rare earth element accumulation in the world, but these metals are not extracted at present due to economic and metallurgical constraints.

    This analysis has highlighted the potential for Australian production of critical commodities from existing mines, but also indicates that there are significant technological and economic impediments to realisation of this potential. It has also highlighted that the potential for critical commodity production is highly dependent upon the type and geochemical characteristics of the ores, and that additional data are required to more fully assess Australia's potential as a critical commodity producer.


    Scientific summary
    Consideration of samples from the large range of ore samples analysed as part of the OSNACA (Ore Samples Normalised to Average Crustal Abundance: http://www.cet.edu.au/projects/osnaca-oresamples-normalised-to-average-crustal-abundance) analytical program at the Centre for Exploration Targeting at the University of Western Australia and as certified reference materials by ORE Research & Exploration Pty Ltd (http://www.ore.com.au/) indicates that some Australian ores have potential as sources for critical commodities as by–products or 'companion metals'. Skirrow et al. (2013) found that potential sources of critical commodities can be grouped into four categories

    : (1) critical commodities associated with mafic orthomagmatic mineral systems,
    (2) critical commodities associated with felsic magmatism,
    (3) critical commodities associated with heavy mineral sands, and
    (4) critical commodities sourced as by-products of the mining of ores of major commodities. In this contribution, the first, second and fourth of these groups are discussed; the third group is not discussed due a lack of data. The viability of by–product extraction is not only dependent on the technical and economic viability of by–product extraction, but also on the economics of the major commodity with which the by–product critical commodity is associated.

    Critical commodities associated with mafic orthomagmatic mineral systems. Komatiite–hosted nickel sulfide and related deposits currently produce both platinum–group elements (PGEs) and Co as by products, but PGEs are also known to be present in unconformity–related uranium deposits and some porphyry Cu deposits, and Co is known but not recovered in some sediment–hosted copper deposits. The data suggest some potential for recovery of PGEs as companion metals, although at present time such recovery is not economic.

    Critical commodities associated with felsic magmatism. Molybdenum and Re are not currently produced in Australia, yet there are a number of potential sources of these metals, including deposits in which molybdenite could be recovered as the main commodity (e.g. porphyry Mo–Cu and skarn deposits) and others in which these metals could be recovered as by–products (e.g. porphyry Cu deposits and sediment–hosted deposits of various kinds). As Mo and Re are commonly recovered as by–products from porphyry Cu deposits around the world, these deposits are perhaps the best potential source of Mo and Re as companion metals in Australia, although their extraction is governed by economic and metallurgical considerations.  
    Pegmatite deposits in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, which are presently being assessed as Li resources, have potential for by–product Ta and Sn. The Toongi zirconia project in New South Wales, if developed, would recover Ta along with other metals including Hf, Nb, Y and rare earth elements (REEs). The Olympic Dam and Prominent Hill iron oxide copper–gold (IOCG) deposits in South Australia contain highly anomalous REE concentrations, with the Olympic Dam deposit being the second largest accumulation (after Bayan Obo, China) of these metals in the world. However, due to low grades (compared to REE-only deposits) and difficulties in producing a REE concentrate, these metals are not currently extracted at Olympic Dam.

    Critical commodities sourced as by–products of the mining of ores of major commodities. At present, sphalerite (Zn) concentrates are an important source of Cd, Ga, Ge and In, with Cd currently being recovered by Australian Zn smelters. Although Cd concentrations are mostly a function of Zn grade, the concentrations of Ga, Ge and In depend strongly on deposit type, and the highest grades of Ga and In are from ores in which Zn is not the major commodity.

    The highest concentrations of Ga and Inin Zn–rich ores are from deposits formed from higher temperature ore fluids, and include, for example, volcanic–hosted massive sulfide (VHMS) ores. In contrast, the highest concentrations of Ge are from deposits formed by low temperature, oxidised fluids such as Mississippi Valley–type deposits and siliciclastic–carbonate sediment–hosted Zn–Pb deposits (e.g. Mount Isa and McArthur River). Intrusion-related deposits can host the highest concentrations of Ga and In.

    Highest concentrations of Ga and In are from intrusion–related deposits, not from Zn–rich deposits. Gallium is most highly enriched in intrusion–related W ores and the Mount Weld REE–rich carbonatite, but extraction of Ga from these types of ores in not presently technically feasible. The highest concentration of In in the samples analysed is from intrusion–related Sn deposits, where it closely correlates with Cu, indicating that chalcopyrite may be a repository. Like Ga, recovery of In from these ore is not technically feasible at present.

    Antimony and Bi, although not recovered from sphalerite concentrates, are also enriched in Zn–rich deposits. Antimony can be enriched in a large range of Zn ores types, but the most likely Australian Sb sources are orogenic stibnite deposits in which Sb would be the main recovered commodity if mined. Recovery of Sb from Zn–rich ores is at present not viable, although these ores contain significant potential companion resources of Sb. Bismuth, on the other hand, can be recovered from a range of mill products, including Pb (galena) and Cu concentrates. Like Ga and In, Bi is enriched in higher temperature deposits including VHMS deposits and some granite–related deposits.

    Selenium and Te are currently recovered from anodic slimes produced during electrolytic recovery of Cu, hence Cu–rich ores are the best sources of these elements. The greatest potential for Se recovery is from some IOCG deposits and Cu–rich VHMS deposits, which are also the most promising sources of Te. Other deposit types (e.g. Zn-rich VHMS and orogenic base metal deposits) can contain elevated Se and Te, but given the constraints imposed by current extraction technologies, these sources may not be economically viable.  

    Extractive metallurgy
    Many, if not most, critical commodities are produced as by–products of major commodities. For example, Ge, In and Cd are largely by–products of Zn smelting. As a consequence, the production of these commodities depends not only on their concentrations in the ores, but also upon the availability of the metallurgical processes for recovery. Table 3.1 summarises the sources and the metallurgical processes used to recover critical commodities discussed in this report.
    The implications of metallurgy on critical commodity production are many and varied. For some commodities,
    metallurgical processes have been developed to extract specific commodities from a limited range of mineral sources. For example, at present metallurgical processes have not been developed to extract In from chalcopyrite. At present Zn–rich ores are by far the dominant source of In, even though Cu–rich ores can contain higher overall concentrations (see below).

    Moreover, in some cases, high concentrations of critical commodities in mineral concentrates can be detrimental. For example, high concentrations of Ge (>50 ppm) and Sb (>1000 ppm) in Zn concentrates can result in smelter penalties due to the difficulties presented in recovering and/or disposing of these metals (Sinclair, 2005).

    Hence, the geochemical data provided in this report must be used with an understanding of metallurgical processes when determining the potential for critical commodity recovery. Many critical commodities are extracted during metallurgical processing of specific concentrates, so even if a concentrate is enriched in a particular commodity, the commodity is only extractable if current commercial processes and metal prices allow extraction.
    The main purpose of this report is to raise awareness that critical commodities may be present in ores but are not recovered. Additional analysis, including metallurgical studies, are required to establish if any of the elements identified can be extracted economically.
 
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