Factors affecting the viability of Canada's copper producers

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 79, No. 885, 1986

W.J.S. CRAIGEN and G.E. WITTUR, EMR Canada Ottawa, Ontario

In the context of today's continuously changing world, there are many factors which must be considered when attempting to assess the ability of Canada's primary copper producers to remain competitive in the face of increasing competition in world markets. In this paper, we have attempted to document those factors that will have the greatest impact on the future viability of Canada's copper industry, and to suggest possible strategies to fully utilize whatever inherent advantages Canada may have to enhance its competitive position. Technological factors related to the efficiency of precious and by-product metals recovery, energy type and utilization efficiency, production and sale of sulphur by-products, and control of SO2 emissions are given high priority in this evaluation of Canada's future needs to remain competitive. Particular emphasis is placed on assessing the relative viability of hydrometallurgical versus pyrometallurgical processes for copper; to address uniquely Canadian conditions and problems. Due consideration is also given to the economic incentives required to allow Canada's copper producers to compete under anticipated world market conditions and to facilitate the continued development of Canada's copper resources.
Keywords: Pyrometallurgy, Copper, Sulphur, Metals recovery, Emissions, Hydrometallurgical process, Extraction, Refining process, Smelting process, Markets, Production costs