Controlling Crud Formation in Solvent Extraction with Acorga® Cr60 PLS Additive

Additonal authors: Bednarski, T.. 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

McCallum, T.

The accumulation of solids in solvent extraction (SX) circuits can cause problems with the physical and economic performance of the operation. These solids are responsible for the formation of crud, a solid stabilized emulsion containing organic, aqueous, air, and fine solid particles. The build-up of crud in SX settlers can limit SX operation throughput, require plant downtime, lead to higher organic losses, or result in higher aqueous in organic entrainment (all of which can have a significant, negative economic impact). Current practices for crud management are typically reactive. Crud is physically removed after it has been allowed to build to excessive levels in the circuit and processed mechanically using centrifuges or filtration. A new proactive solution has been developed to prevent crud formation and build-up. Low ppm dosage of an additive, ACORGA® CR60, into the pregnant leach solution (PLS) has resulted in reduced crud formation in pilot and commercial scale for a variety of PLS streams. This paper will review results from operations in North America and Africa, covering heap leach, concentrate leach, and agitated leach feeds. INTRODUCTION Crud formation and build-up in solvent extraction (SX) circuits has been a long time topic discussed and claimed to be crucial to the whole hydrometallurgical process (Liu, et al, 2006). Crud formation is present in all SX systems be it copper, uranium, zinc, etc., and Ritcey (1980) defined crud as a stabilized emulsion containing organic, aqueous, and fine solid particles. The ore type and feed composition is a major determining factor of crud formation and typically contains Si, Al, Fe, P, and sulfates (Ritcey, 1980). It typically builds at the interface between the organic and aqueous, but can also be observed as floating crud on the surface of the settler, or bottom crud, which is common to find in circuits treating agitated leach feeds such as in Africa. As crud formation has been unavoidable, many of the current crud management techniques are reactive, allowing crud to form and build in SX circuits. Once it does, it is removed and treated via different mechanical techniques, typically through some type of filtration or three-phase centrifuge, to remove the solids and recover the organic phase trapped within the emulsion (Ritcey, 1980). Automated pumping systems have also been designed and are frequently used in North American operations. The time and capital required to react to crud formation can be an overwhelming aspect to SX operation.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019