Copper production through smelting generates large volumes of material flows. As copper contained in ore becomes copper contained in concentrate to be fed into the smelting process, it leaves behind an altered landscape, sometimes mine waste, and always mill tailings. Copper concentrate, fluxing materials, fuels, oxygen, recyclables, scrap and water are inputs to the process. Dust (recycled), gases - containing carbon dioxide (CO2) (dissipated) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) (mostly collected, transformed and sold) and slag (discarded or sold) - are among the significant process outputs. This article reports estimates of the flows of these input/output materials for a particular set of smelters studied in some countries.
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Material flows generated by pyromet copper smelting