3M logoThrough its New Ventures Business, 3M is investing a new process developed by Lixivia, a Chilean company, to enhance copper sulfurate recovery to above industry-standard level applications; transaction terms were undisclosed.

3M New Ventures President Stefan Gabriel called the technology a “paradigm shift” for mining operations worldwide. “We believe Lixivia’s technology addresses core issues of mining companies today,” he said.

The innovations, said 3M, consist of a catalyzing process using ferric nitrate in lixiviation solutions as a reagent to increase copper recuperation. Along with “promising results” on copper sulfurate, company officials said, the technology maintains the chemical balance of iron dissolved in the complete process.

The patented technology has been tested at 3M’s facility in Antofagasta. “This investment reflects 3M Chile’s interest in developing innovative solutions and supporting local entrepreneurship,” added Sebastian Arana, Managing Director, 3M Chile.

“We consider 3M an important strategic partner,” said Lixivia Executive Director Alejandro Cartagena.

Next steps will be pilot tests this year, said company officials. By 2015, they added, the technology will be ready for implementation possibly along with other copper mines in the U.S., Australia, Mexico, Peru and in Africa.

Lixivia was founded by Alejandro Cartagena, Christian Hecker, Manuel Cartagena and Ernesto Beas, civil engineers with experience in mineral processes and hydrometallurgy.