Conventional copper mining involves removing ore from the ground, then crushing and treating it to remove the minerals trapped in the rock.

The process involves a huge amount of earthmoving, especially since a layer of overburden usually needs to be removed to expose the orebody.

Earthmoving is expensive because it is extremely capital-intensive, with a large number of trucks, shovels and manpower needed. It also creates a lot of ground disturbance which, in today’s environmentally-conscious setting, can attract community resistance, create permitting issues, and lead to costly site remediation plans.