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Western Australian company Mining and Process Solutions (MPS) is developing new glycine heap leaching technology with the aim to unlock significant value from copper oxides, gold and nickel ores.

With the backing of the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australian (MRIWA), the technology will assist improved environmental performance through the use of glycine, an environmentally friendly reagent.

The technology has produced encouraging results so far, with precious metals extracted with reduced cyanide consumption, offering an alternative to sulphuric acid for base metals.

MPS managing director Ivor Bryan said a number of considerations are underpinning the new technology.

“Understanding the performance, scalability and financial feasibility of glycine heap leaching was key to advancing further trials for commercialisation,” Bryan said.

The viability of the technology has already been established. Five patent families have emerged in relation to the new technology, including major mining jurisdictions around the world. To date over 60 individual countries have granted patents.

MRIWA chief executive officer Nicole Roocke said MPS’ technology represents a larger success story.

“These results demonstrate Western Australia is a global leader in developing sustainable technologies to offer alternatives to sulphuric acid for base metals heap leaching operations, and reduced cyanide consumption for gold ores,” Roocke said.

MPS is now supporting the development of the state’s battery industry by participating in the Future Battery Industry Cooperative Research Centre.

The company will investigate the use of the technology in the extraction and processing of nickel and cobalt, to supply the battery market.

The new glycine heap leaching technology is a solidification of MPS’ reputation.

The company won the West Australian Innovator of the Year Award in 2019, the Australian Technologies competition 2017 (METS category) and recently won the CleanTech category of the global Xtreme Technology Challenge XTC 2021.

The likes of Sandfire Resources, Barrick Gold, Coda Minerals (previously Gindalbie Metals) and Poseidon Nickel are sponsoring MPS’ project.