Both energy and water emissions were set to be slashed by the CSIRO's new copper analyzer, which used magnetic resonance technology to detect large quantities of waste rock and rejected the rock before it even entered the manufacturing process.
The analyzer worked by using short pulses of radio waves which illuminated batches of ore and allowed the magnetic resonance technology to penetrate through the copper -- similar to the way a medical MRI sees into human bodies -- to rapidly and accurately detect ore quality.
The CSIRO said this had the potential to double average ore grades as other analyzers were only able to go "skin deep" and detect mineral particles on the ore's surface which led to less reliable results.
The innovation was set to be released worldwide through NextOre, a company created by the CSIRO and RFC Ambrian.
"Bringing the analyzer to market through NextOre opens up the opportunity to transform the global copper industry and reduce its environmental footprint," CSIRO research director Nick Cutmore said.
"NextOre has identified 59 mature copper mine sites where the analyzer could be applied to extend their life.
"The solution could also enable undeveloped, low grade mines to be brought into production, so the economic benefits are huge."
The analyzer, which could also be applied to gold and iron-bearing ores, was set to be introduced to South America and Canada in late 2018.