The mining industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by need for improved productivity and safety, cost control and reduced environmental impact. New technologies such as GPS, new drilling technologies, 3d mapping and geo-modelling, autonomous equipment and process controls can improve the success of mining activities, reduce the environmental impact and improve productivity at mines. In the last three years alone, there have been over 48,000 patents filed and granted in the mining industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Extraction Technology in Mining: Extraction By Leaching.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 350,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the mining industry, there are 150+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Extraction by leaching is a key innovation area in extraction technology

Leaching extracts valuable minerals from ore using either heap leaching or in-situ leaching process. Precious metals including gold are extracted from their ores using cyanide or ozone leaching. Acid leaching is used to extract radioactive metals such as uranium. The appropriate metal extraction leaching method is chosen based on economic and environmental viability.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 60+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established mining companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of extraction by leaching.

Key players in extraction by leaching – a disruptive innovation in the mining industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Leaders in extraction by leaching include Metso Outotec , whose leaching process uses highly effective atmospheric chloride leaching technology, which is combined with VSF solvent extraction and electrowinning technology, to provide a dependable and environmentally sustainable processing method. The copper pressure leaching process concept includes autoclave pressure leaching to produce copper-containing pregnant leach solution. After leaching, there is a neutralisation step, followed by copper solvent extraction and electrowinning.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the mining industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Mining.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article. 

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.