Universal Bio Mining is developing novel copper extraction technologies by shifting the chemistry of existing processes.
As much as ten percent of copper production is from biological process. Leaching is the lowest cost production method and is considered more environmentally friendly than pyrometallurgy, which sends concentrate to smelters. However, leaching is applicable to only some types of ores, and the most common ore type, chalcopyrite, has very poor recoveries when leached. As a result, low-grade chalcopyrite that cannot be sent to a smelter is generally treated as waste.
UBM is using cutting-edge microbiology to modify the bioleaching process and to make the leaching of chalcopyrite economic. Our objective is to enable the production of an additional billion pounds of copper with no increase in the ore mined from the ground.