New Report at NBMG
Opportunities for Precious Metals Toll Processing and Copper Concentrate Processing in Nevada
by Thomas J. DeMull, David A. Davis, Lucia M. Patterson, and Joel Lenz
Series: Report 57
Format: 44 pages (6 pages are 11×17), color
Endeavoring to facilitate economic development in the minerals industry, the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources initiated this study on opportunities for precious metal custom milling and copper concentrate processing in the state. The study compiled a listing of 51 existing processing facilities, including key data such as location, ownership, process type, and capacity, if available. Brief descriptions of the existing facilities are provided. A number of these facilities are either actively engaged in custom processing or will consider custom processing of materials. Precious metal resources that could become candidates for custom processing were identified, and descriptions of the resources are provided. Since ample opportunities for custom processing precious metal ores already exist, the viability of establishing a new plant for precious metals is questionable. Reactivating one of the idle plants would likely be more attractive than building a new one.
Undeveloped copper resources in Nevada are identified, including estimates of potential production that could feed a copper concentrate processing facility. The volume of existing copper concentrate production in Nevada is probably not adequate to support a concentrate processing facility. However, a case could be made for establishing a concentrate processing facility in Nevada, if production from other western states that is now exported and the potential production from undeveloped resources in Nevada and other states are considered along with the current Nevada production. Copper smelting and concentrate leaching are listed as alternative processing technologies. Autoclave leaching of concentrates is a lower capital cost alternative, which could increase the economic attractiveness of a copper concentrate processing facility. Potential developers could include the producers of concentrate and operators of concentrate processing facilities in other states. Nevada is a mining-friendly jurisdiction, and potential locations for a copper concentrate processing facility were identified with access to transportation, energy, and air basins with no current sources of emissions. Development of a concentrate processing facility may attract downstream copper facilities such as rod plants, wire manufacturers, brass mills, and copper-alloy manufacturers.