Copper Refining Electrolyte Purification using SuperLig® Molecular Recognition Technology for Bismuth Removal—The Experience at Birla Copper

Additonal authors: Rao, B.V.. 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

Sharma, A.

Bismuth is a notorious contaminant in the electrolytic refining of Cu that can cause cathodes to fail to meet ASTM International standards and not be suitable for use in Cu rod and other downstream products. Bismuth can significantly decrease electrical conductivity, decrease the mechanical strength of the annealed wire, retard recrystallization, and sometimes induce hot shortness during the hot rolling process in the production of rod. As a result, the control of Bi in the refinery tankhouse must be carefully managed. This paper describes how SuperLig® Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) is being used for Bi removal at the Birla Copper Dahej Copper refinery. The operation of the SuperLig® MRT Bi removal plant is described and data on Bi removal efficiency are presented. INTRODUCTION Hindalco’s Cu division, Birla Copper, operates one of the largest Cu refineries in the world at Dahej, Gujarat; India. The main feed for this refinery is produced at the company’s smelter. Due to its massive production capacity, this operation mainly relies on imported Cu concentrates resulting in a variety of metals being carried out as impurities in the Cu anodes because pyrometallurgical technologies alone are not enough to remove them to the extent required. Metal impurities found in Cu ores include Fe, Zn, As, Pb, Bi, and Sb. During electrorefining, less noble metals dissolve in the electrolyte gradually increasing their concentrations creating the need for electrolyte control mechanisms that remove these impurities with varying degrees of success (Wang, 2004; Navarro et al., 2013.) Bismuth is one of the most significant impurities in a Cu refinery because it has the lowest ASTM product specification. This situation is critical because the Bi potential is very close to that of Cu making it possible to plate in the Cu cathode directly. Also, Bi can precipitate at high concentrations causing floating slimes and reduction of current efficiency (Ballinas, San Miguel, Munoz, & Gyves, 2003). Production of high purity cathodes from feed stock containing a diverse range of metal impurities becomes a major challenge in the refining of Cu (Izatt et al., 2015). In this work, the purification strategy followed by Birla Copper for the removal of Bi using a separation process based on MRT is presented, outlining the loading and stripping performance of SuperLig®83 and the benefits of using MRT over other lower selectivity methods where hazardous materials are produced instead of high purity products.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019