Pyrometallurgy Innovation Centre (PYROSEARCH)

Cu-, Pb-, Refractory- consortia meeting in Brisbane, May 2019 

Cu-ME consortium

Minor Elements Distribution in Copper Smelting Systems

ARC Linkage project LP140100480 (2017-2020):

“Creating sustainable copper supplies by using innovative high temperature chemical processing of highly complex impure ores and recycled materials”

ARC Linkage project LP190101020 (2020-2025):

“Future copper metallurgy for the age of e-mobility and the circular economy”

Project summary:

Most of the world’s copper is produced using high temperature chemical processing (smelting). Both primary ores and recycled raw materials contain valuable elements and also potentially harmful impurity elements. To unlock and utilise current and new resources, and also minimise the environmental impacts the industry has identified the need for new fundamental scientific data that describe the chemical behaviour of impurity elements in these systems. The project aims to then use the data to develop powerful computer-based thermodynamic models that can predict the products of complex industrial processes. These sophisticated tools are intended to then be used to improve the performance of existing industrial operations and assist in the development of new process designs.

Copper, nickel, cobalt, chromium and tin metals are essential for the manufacture of new battery materials, electrical and electronic devices and technologies that will enable the global transition to sustainable energy systems. There are major technical challenges associated with the industrial scale high temperature production, separation and recycling of these metals. The aim of the present study is develop advanced chemical thermodynamic databases and models that can be used to predict the outcomes of these complex chemical reactions, and in doing so provide the industry with the vital fundamental scientific information and tools needed to be able to design and improve new, more efficient metal production and recycling technologies.

Distribution of minor elements between slag and Cu, calculated using FactSage software and proprietary database


Consortium of copper producers on:

“Fundamental studies in non-ferrous processing chemistry”

Partner organisations:

  • Olympic Dam Corporation, BHP Billiton (Australia)
  • Outotec (Finland) Oy
  • Penoles (Mexico)
  • Boliden (Sweden)
  • Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corporation, Glencore (Philippines)
  • Kazzinc Ltd ,Glencore (Kazakhstan)
  • Umicore NV (Belgium)
  • Atlantic Copper (Spain)
  • Aurubis AG (Germany)
  • Anglo American Pt  (South Africa)
  • Glencore Technology Pty Ltd (Australia)
  • RHI Magnesita (Austria)
  • Rio Tinto Copper and Diamonds (USA)

This consortium is open to join! Contact the Centre Director for more information.

Pb consortium

Consortium of lead producers.

ARC Linkage project LP150100783:

“Fundamental studies in non-ferrous processing chemistry for lead smelting, refining and recycling”

Project summary:

The aim of the project is to provide new data and thermodynamic modelling tools to be used in the development of the next generation of lead metal smelting, refining and recycling processes used to recycle electronic materials, process hazardous wastes and recover valuable metals. The intention is to combine recently developed experimental techniques with the latest advances in FactSage chemical thermodynamic modelling to overcome long-standing experimental and modelling obstacles. The new experimental data and databases are intended to provide important information on high-temperature chemistry of complex phase equilibria and on the distribution of minor elements in multiphase systems.


Professor Evgueni Jak; Professor Peter Hayes.

An SEM micrograph of the quenched slag/matte/speiss/lead/SiO2 sample in the mixed lead/copper smelting system

Partner organisations:

  • Nyrstar (Australia)
  • Outotec Pty Ltd (Australia)
  • Aurubis AG (Germany)
  • Penoles (Mexico)
  • Boliden (Sweden)
  • Umicore NV (Belgium)
  • Kazzinc Ltd, Glencore (Kazakhstan)

This consortium is open to join! Contact the Centre Director for more information.