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Copper Ore Mining Hazards

Copper ore mining not only presents environmental hazards, from air pollution to wildlife destruction, but also health and safety hazards, especially when underground mining techniques are used.

One major concern of copper mining is the inhalation of silica dust particles, which leads to the development of silicosis, pneumoconiosis, or tuberculosis. Mining for copper sulphide ore, like chalcopyrite, is particularly hazardous to human health because of the number of toxins it releases, including methylmercury, lead, arsenic, asbestos, and cadmium.

Automation will be key to mitigating these health and safety risks. Automating equipment not only removes miners from hazardous environments, but it also increases productivity by keeping operations running continuously.

One example of automation is the use of light electric vehicles (LEVs) in the Olympic Dam underground copper mine, one of the largest copper mines in the world. Here, the investment in LEVs powered by lithium ion batteries has successfully kept miners safe, maximised production, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Key fact: The Olympic Dam mine is the fourth largest copper deposit in the world, reaching a depth of around 350 metres


  • Essential resource for renewable energy systems

  • Hazards can be reduced with automation

  • Automation is key to maximising efficiency

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