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Rio Tinto Copper Mine, Palabora, South Africa

Producer of

Copper, vermiculite, zircon, magnetite, uranium, precious metals


Northeastern South Africa


Rio Tinto (57.7%); Anglo American (28.9%)

Geology type

Carbonatite-hosted copper orebody hosted in an alkaline igneous complex

Mineral type

Copper: chalcopyrite, bornite, cubanite, chalcocite and vallerite

Zircon: baddeleyite

Uranium: uranothorianite

Iron: magnetite

Gold, silver, platinum and palladium

Reserve base

Underground 225Mt grading 0.7% copper

Annual production

10.7Mt of ore, containing 61,500t of copper in concentrates, 1.13Mt of magnetite and 198,000t of vermiculite, plus nickel sulphate, baddeleyite and precious metals (2006)

Mining method

Underground block caving

Processing method

Crushing, milling and flotation to recover copper concentrates; on-site smelting and refining




Shaft hoists: MAN-GHH

Crushers: ThyssenKrupp

Refrigeration: Howden

Monitoring: Endress & Hauser


Shaft sinking: Shaft Sinkers Pty Ltd

Underground development: RUC Mining Contracting

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