For the past 50 years, the R&D 100s has been the “who’s who” for cutting edge research and development (R&D), celebrating the brightest innovations of the year with several thousand contestants from all types of industries. FLSmidth won the global Top 100 for its Rapid Oxidative Leach (ROL) process. Accompanying them on the winning podium were NASA, Johnson & Johnson, MIT, and several national laboratories like Sandia and Berkeley.

“We are extremely proud to be among the global Top 100 of cutting edge R&D across industries and institutions worldwide. Mining is the oldest existing industry, but we are nevertheless constantly able to rethink processes to get more out of the natural resources. ROL is a potential industry game-changer,” said Gary Roy, vice president of R&D in minerals for FLSmidth, after receiving the award in Washington, D.C.

FLSmidth’s ROL process is an alternative route to smelting. It economically dissolves copper from low- to mid-grade primary sulphide copper concentrates so it becomes feasible to produce cathode copper from concentrate directly rather than sell the concentrate to a smelter.

The ROL process technology, according to FLSmidth, enables the leaching of 97%-99% copper from mineral concentrates containing as little as 5% copper in less than six hours, a faster and much more simple process that significantly improves the sustainability of existing mines. ROL would enable miners with small or medium deposits, or those with low-grade concentrate, to bypass a costly smelting process by using the mill’s existing processing infrastructure. In addition to primary metal production, the ROL process technology also allows for efficient recovery of metals from waste recycle streams and leach residue.