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Copper concentrate processing

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Copper ore concentrate processing

Because the metal concentration is usually quite low in nonferrous ores, the first stage in mineral production at the mine is ore beneficiation, usually consisting of the processes of milling (crushing and grinding) and concentrating (usually consisting of a series of steps including flotation and dewatering by thickening and filtering).


Not all ores are concentrated; some may be smelted without any preliminary treatment. Such ores are known as direct smelting ores. They are to be distinguished from the far more important class of concentrating ores, for they appear as a final product of the copper mining industry in the form of ore, while the others appear as concentrates.


Neither direct smelting ores nor concentrates constitute a homogeneous grouping. Within each category there are broad variations in type and quality. These comprise differences in grade (metal content per ton); differences in the form in which the metal occurs (ease with which it can be smelted); differences in the amount of other metals, such as gold and silver, associated with the copper (which in some ores may mean that a metal other than copper is of chief value), etc. Defined precisely, therefore, the output of the copper industry consists of direct smelting ores and concentrates of varying qualities and types which, when smelted and refined, will yield metallic copper and perhaps several other metals. We measure this output in terms of the recoverable content of copper, gold and silver in the ores and concentrates the industry produces, with each metal weighted by its price. This index of course differs from the index of output for the commodity copper , for it includes those amounts of gold and silver which come from copper ores