Additonal authors: Hernández, M.C.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:
Selenium is obtained mainly from copper anode slimes, which is a by-product of the copper electrorefining process. Selenium is present in copper anode slimes as silver and copper selenides. Traditionally, selenium has been obtained by pyrometallurgical processes; however, hydrometallurgy has now been incorporated either full or partial to the conventional process. Some hydrometallurgical processes are been developed and used at laboratory level an industrial scale.
This document describes theoretical background and results of characterization and dissolution of selenium from a decopperized anode slimes in an alkaline oxidizing system. The results have indicated that the oxidizing leaching process reaches a practically complete dissolution of selenium (up to 90 %); the undissolved portion is due to the generation of a AgCl around the particle surfaces that delays the progression of the reaction. The results indicated that 90% of selenium extraction can be obtained by dissolution under moderate conditions of pH, temperature and reagent concentration in oxidizing medium.
Selenium is distributed in the earth's crust in most rocks and soils. Selenium is essential, as it has wide range of applications in the medical and food industries as well as, used in semiconductor, sensors and photochemical devices. Selenium is rarely found in the native state, 90% of selenium is obtained from copper anode slimes, which is a byproduct of the copper electrorefining process (Lu, Chang, Yang, & Xie, 2015; Xiao et al., 2017; Yang et al., 2018). In anode slimes, selenium is present as an intermetallic compound, as Ag-Cu selenides. Currently, selenium is recovered from the anode slimes via hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical processes (Lu et al., 2015). The traditional pyrometallurgical method recovers selenium effectively, but faces difficulty as a result of increased energy costs and strict environmental regulations associated with the process (Li, Yang, Jin, Chen, & Tong, 2017). Therefore, hydrometallurgical processes are proposed in oxidizing medium such as nitric acid, alkaline leaching with sodium nitrate, wet chlorination and pressure leaching, amongst others (Hait, Jana, & Sanyal, 2012; Kim & Wang, 2010; Xiao et al., 2017; Yang et al., 2018).