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Next-generation Smelting Technologies (Nikko Chloride Process)

The pyro-metallurgic process in main use today is able to extract copper from large quantities of ore in a short time. This approach, however, has a high environmental cost since it requires processing of the sulfur oxides released from the sulfur content of ores. We are developing new smelting technologies that are more environmentally viable and efficient. The focus of this R&D is on a hydro-metallurgic method that uses less energy than the conventional approach and does not emit sulfur oxides.
As part of this research effort, we are working toward commercial realization of a new hydro-metallurgic process that uses hydrochloric acid to leach copper from ore. Called the Nikko Chloride Process, this method is applicable to primary sulfide copper ores such as chalcocite, which account for the majority of underground copper resources and from which copper extraction is difficult with hydro-metallurgic processes that use sulfuric acid. A demonstration plant with annual production capacity of 100 tons of copper was built in Perth, Australia and had been in operation since November 2009 to 2013. We advance an effort to commercialize the process while searching the mines to apply the process.

Nikko Chloride Process

Building that houses the demonstration equipmentBuilding that houses the demonstration equipment