Quantifying the recoverable resources of by-product metals: The case of cobalt

Mudd, G, Weng, Z, Jowitt, S, Turnbull, I and Graedel, T 2013, 'Quantifying the recoverable resources of by-product metals: The case of cobalt', Ore Geology Reviews, vol. 55, no. C, pp. 87-98.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Quantifying the recoverable resources of by-product metals: The case of cobalt
Author(s) Mudd, G
Weng, Z
Jowitt, S
Turnbull, I
Graedel, T
Year 2013
Journal name Ore Geology Reviews
Volume number 55
Issue number C
Start page 87
End page 98
Total pages 12
Publisher Elsevier
Abstract The long-term availability of mineral resources is crucial in underpinning human society, technology and economic activity, and managing anthropogenic environmental impacts. This availability is increasingly true for metals that do not generally form the primary product of mines, such as copper or iron, but instead are recovered as by-products (or sometimes co-products) during the processing of primary ores-also known as 'companion metals' (e.g., indium, cobalt, molybdenum, rhenium, selenium). These metals, however, can be of significant economic and technological importance, both to a mine's economics and in downstream applications. It is therefore useful to develop methodologies to estimate the "recoverable resource" for such companion metals, i.e., the amount that could, if desired, be extracted and put into use over the next several decades. Monitoring the supply and demand of these resources is important to enable the identification of any changes that may have significant repercussions for the global economy, technology needs, and the environment. Here, we derive an estimate of the recoverable resource for cobalt (Co), a metal used with increasing frequency and in larger amounts in modern technology that is mainly recovered as a by-product of copper and nickel ore processing and production; Co-only mines are few in number and typically small in size. Our methodology combines the reported size of ore bodies that host Co with measured or estimated Co concentrations in the ores within these bodies. The dominantly by-product nature of Co means that uncertainties exist for some of the Co grades as well as recovery rates; given this, we also split our total recoverable Co resource, using a resource estimate data quality classification, into high, medium and low quality data, depending on factors such as whether statutory resource reporting codes were used during resource reporting.
Subject Environmental Engineering not elsewhere classified
Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) By-product metals
Companion metals
Mineral resources
DOI - identifier 10.1016/j.oregeorev.2013.04.010
Copyright notice © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
ISSN 0169-1368
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