A Novel Process to Remove Arsenic from Dusts Produced in Chilean Copper Smelting

Additonal authors: Paredes, I.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Henao, H.

Smelting of copper concentrate generates a significant amount of dusts which are collected in electrostatic precipitators. This material, which is a complex oxide of Cu, Fe, S, As, Sb, Bi and others, is difficult to recirculate into the smelting process due to the reported high concentration of arsenic. However, the dust also has concentration of copper above 10wt %, aside from reported contents of silver corresponding as much as 25wt% of the total inventories of this element in the smelters. Thus, it is of economic and environmental interest the development of a process able to reduce the concentration of arsenic in the dust and produce a material suitable to be recirculated into the smelting process. The present experimental work shows the results of a process of dust sulfidization-oxidition able to remove more than 65wt% of the arsenic present. INTRODUCTION Copper sulfide deposits worldwide exhibit increasing concentrations of arsenic. One case of interest would be the copper ores from the northern zone of Chile, which report high concentrations of enargite (Cu3AsS4) (Revista química, 2015) (Latinominería, 2014). The obtained concentrate from this ore is treated in a Fluidized Bed Roaster, producing calcines with low concentration of arsenic (<0.5 wt% As). This material is suitable to be treated in a Flash Furnace. At the roasting process, the arsenic is volatilized and then precipitated as fine particles of complex oxides. Most of this particulate material is removed from the gas stream through a device called Electrostatic Precipitator (Minería chilena, 2014). The experimental results reported in the literature indicate that arsenic present in these particulate materials (or dusts) cannot be eliminated in oxidizing atmospheres (air) or with inert gases (N2) in a Fluidized Bed Roaster even at temperatures as high as 700°C. There is also information that even the recovery of valuable metals from the dust is difficult through hydrometallurgical processes (private communication). This is how in some foundries these dusts are considered environmental liabilities. Regarding the decomposition of enargite (Cu3AsS4) in neutral atmosphere, it is reported in the literature (Padilla, 2001) that the main chemical reactions are:
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019