Applications of Lateralvex® and Lateralflow® Technologies in Minera Antucoya, an Amsa Ew Tank-House in Chile

Additonal authors: Villaseca, C.. 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

Penna, F.

Acid mist is the undesired result of copper electro-winning (EW) process, generating a contaminated and hazardous environment in the working areas, as well as promoting high corrosion conditions for structures and equipment in the EW tank-house due to the buoyancy of sulfuric acid in aerosol form. Likewise, organic entrainments that occasionally occur in this process contaminate the cathodes, as well as increasing the risk of fire. LateralVex® and LateralFlow® are technologies that effectively and efficiently solve these problems, without affecting the usual activities of the operators, thus presenting a significant distinction with respect to other technologies that seek to solve these problems. Minera Antucoya, an AMSA group company, which produces 80,000 tons of electrolytic Cu per year, decided to install both technologies for its EW tank-house, LateralVex® in commercial cells and LateralFlow® in scavenger cells to keep both the acid mist and the organic entrainments under control. This paper presents the effects of applying these technologies in Minera Antucoya’s electro-winning plant, the challenges addressed, the difficulties encountered, the problems and opportunities that their implementation involved, as well as the surprising results obtained at the time of measuring the acid mist— less than one hundred’s part of the Allowed Weighted Limit—in samples taken with the plant operating at maximum current capacity. Additionally, the paper includes some of the improvements identified during the period, more than 3 years, in which these technologies have been in operation in Minera Antucoya. INTRODUCTION Electrowinning is the most used electro-chemical process in the hydrometallurgical industry for the recovery of highly pure metallic copper as its final product, which is formed in previous stages in an aqueous medium that goes through a selective process using organic solvents to separate impurities and concentrate the metal in a sulfuric acid solution. In the last stage, this solution goes through a process in which high- density current at a low voltage is applied, so that the metal in the solution will deposit in solid state on a plate, usually a stainless-steel plate. This last process involves the generation of other sub-products due to the electro-chemical dissociation of the electrolyte’s components, or to the addition of chemical additives, or due to specific physical conditions or lack of controls during the operation.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019