Cu Extraction from Naturally-Sourced CuFeS2 Coupled to Zn Electrowinning in a Battery-Like System

Additonal authors: Asselin, E.. 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

Deen, K. M.

Hydrometallurgical processes, i.e., Cu extraction from a mineral concentrate and Zn electrowinning, are coupled in a battery-like system. A naturally-sourced CuFeS2 concentrate mixed with activated carbon is used as a positive slurry electrode separated by a membrane from the negative compartment. The Zn is deposited on the negative Al current collector from the circulating solution containing 100 g L–1 Zn2+ in 0.2 M H2SO4. In this battery-like system, both CuFeS2 oxidation and Zn deposition are possible during the charging cycle. The additional benefit of this setup is the energy storage if discharged by re-dissolving the Zn in the negative compartment. Cyclic charge/discharge testing revealed oxidation of the mineral concentrate supported by the Zn2+/Zn redox reaction. The coulombic and energy efficiencies increased monotonically to 95.6% and 43%, respectively, with approximately 7% Cu extraction during the first 10 charge/discharge cycles (completed in 2.4 hours). The discharge energy density also increased from 2.7 to 36.2 mWh L–1. In the following 90 cycles, the low energy (~14%) and coulombic (~33%) efficiencies that were obtained confirmed the progress of irreversible reactions e.g. Cu extraction from the mineral concentrate. Overall, approximately 16% Cu was extracted from the mineral concentrate over 100 charge/discharge cycles (or about 12.2 hours). INTRODUCTION Chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) is the main economic copper-bearing mineral, which is generally processed through pyro-metallurgical methods to produce Cu. However, environmental challenges with smelting, depletion of high-grade ores and a large number of impurities (some toxic) have resulted in continued research aimed at the development of hydrometallurgical technologies to process CuFeS2. There are a number of different proposed hydrometallurgical routes in the literature to treat CuFeS2 concentrates, but only a few have attained commercial acceptance (Dreisinger, 2006). Zn is another commercially important metal that is mainly produced via acid leaching of roasted sphalerite (ZnS). The pregnant leach solution is rigorously purified to remove all the soluble metal impurities, particularly those that are electrochemically more noble than Zn and present large kinetic activity towards H2 evolution (Hu & Piron, 1992; Mackinnon, Brannen, & Fenn, 1987; Mureşan, Maurin, Oniciu, & Gaga, 1996). Metal impurities such as Cu, Co, Ni, Cd, Pb, Sb, As, Ge and Fe etc., if they exist in the leach liquor beyond the tolerance limits, can decrease the current efficiency during electrowinning and deteriorate the deposit quality (Alfantazi & Dreisinger, 2001). A complete flow sheet, describing the process steps of Zn metal production from mine site to pure metal is presented elsewhere (Brown, Meisenhelder, & Yao, 1983).
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019