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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: North America: October 10th 2005


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:: Restart Copper Concentrator and Construct Copper Concentrate Leaching Facility at Morenci Mine

Sumitomo Metal Mining (SMM) and Sumitomo Corporation (SC) (SMM and SC collectively referred to as Sumitomo) have jointly announced that they have reached agreement with Phelps Dodge Corporation (PD), the world's largest publicly traded copper producer, to restart the idled copper concentrator and construct the concentrate leaching facility to produce copper cathodes from the copper concentrate to be processed at the restarted concentrator at Morenci copper mine, Arizona which is operated under the joint venture between PD and Sumitomo (Morenci Mining Joint Venture).

Sumitomo has joined Morenci Mining Joint Venture since 1986, and Morenci Mining Joint Venture is at present operating heap leaching and solvent extraction electrowinning complex at Morenci mine. The restarted concentrator idled since 2001 and newly constructed concentrate leaching facilities will be incorporated into the existing leaching and electrowinning complex, and approximately 70,000 tonnes of annual production from the new facilities will replace an expected decline in Morenci's heap leach output later this decade with the increased ratio of chalcopyrite ores which are difficult to be processed at the existing complex.

Concentrate leaching technology, in conjunction with a conventional milling and flotation concentrator, allows copper sulfide ores, especially chalcopyrite ores, to be transformed to copper cathodes through the efficient pressure leaching and electrowinning process. The new facilities will employ proprietary technology by Phelps Dodge and under demonstration at its Bagdad copper mine, Arizona, and will be the first-ever commercial-scale copper concentrate leaching facility.




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