First Commercialisation of the Albion Process™ For Copper

Additonal authors: Stieper, Glenn. 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

Voigt, Paul

Sable Zinc Kabwe Limited ("Sable") is a base metal processing plant, two kilometres south of Kabwe Town in Central Province, Zambia. The region has a rich history in mining and minerals production, being a major lead and zinc producer from the 1900s up to the mid-1990s. In 2006, a copper plant was built at the Sable processing site to treat third-party copper and cobalt oxide ores and concentrates. The oxide leaching plant included whole ore leaching, solvent extraction and production of 8,000 tpa LME Grade A copper cathode. The plant was placed on care and maintenance in 2014, and Glencore Plc ("Glencore") took the opportunity to convert the plant using a minimal budget, to an Albion Process™ plant to treat local refractory copper concentrates unsuitable or uneconomic for smelting. The Albion Process™ plant comprises an M100 IsaMill™ operating in acidic conditions such that raffinate from the downstream process is recycled back to slurry the concentrate delivered to site thus maximising copper tenor in solution and reducing water consumption. The finely ground concentrate feeds an oxidative leaching plant using the existing stainless steel oxide leach reactors converted to Albion Process™ duty by fitting HyperSparge™ supersonic oxygen injectors and gas dispersing agitators. The leached slurry is then directed to the existing solid/liquid separation equipment, and the PLS is then sent to the existing SX/EW plant. The plant also allows for cobalt recovery from the raffinate. The plant was designed based on testwork on regional copper concentrates. The plant was designed to toll treat a range of concentrates, and so the design was flexible With the flexibility of the Albion Process™ being one of its distinct advantages, the plant was ideally suited for tolling regional concentrates. The plant was commissioned and ramped up in six weeks using low-grade Zambian copper concentrate, and produced exclusively LME Grade A copper with over 99% leach recovery in the Albion circuit. INTRODUCTION The Sable Zinc Kabwe Limited ("Sable") process plant is located 2 km south of Kabwe town and 140km north of Lusaka in Central Province, Zambia. In 1902, rich deposits of zinc and lead were discovered with mines and processing plants operating in and around the town until mid-1994. In 2000, the Kabwe Mine tailings dams were sold to Sable, a newly established company, as part of a purchase deal for other plots and facilities. Up until 2004, Sable produced zinc cathodes in an SX/EW plant treating wash plant tailing material. In 2004, Sable was acquired by the South African mining company Metorex Limited ("Metorex"), and in 2006 a copper/cobalt SX/EW plant was built to produce copper cathode from malachite ore supplied from the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2011, Jinchuan Group International Resources Co. Ltd acquired Metorex and Sable was in turn sold to a subsidiary of Glencore Plc ("Glencore").
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019