How Lewatit® Ion-Exchange Resins Can Add Value to Solvent Extraction Circuits

Additonal authors: Neufeind, S.. 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

Steinhilber, D.

A complementary ion exchange/solvent extraction process for the recovery of copper from low- grade ores is described. It has successfully been implemented on a full-scale plant level at the Buchim Copper Mine in Macedonia, yielding a maximum copper cathode production of 2400 tons per year. Compared with conventional SX/EW operations, this technology makes the exploitation of low-grade copper ores economically attractive, due to reduced operational and capital expenditures. Furthermore, the additional Lewatit® ion-exchange installations diminish the volumes of harmful organic substances in the following SX step and minimise the risks associated with the handling and usage of these chemicals, such as environmental pollution or fires. Finally, the significantly diminished quantities of liquids for the SX operation have a tremendous effect on the footprint of the plant (ca. 50% less) thereby leading to a reduction of capital expenditures. This paper reviews the main stages of the combined IX/SX process, the applications for metal recovery and introduces projects where the process is applied. Key findings of the process are also presented. A comprehensive technical comparison between processes has been carried out. This paper also evaluates the advantages of using combined IX/SX technology as a purification and separation step in copper production process, with the aim of further increasing the overall copper recovery and to ensure that a suitable copper concentration in the advanced electrolyte is achieved. The implementation of a Ion Exchange (IX) process in the classic Solvent Extraction-Electrowinning process(SX/EW) is found to be beneficial for processing of pregnant leach solutions both from spent and new copper heaps and dumps, acid mine drainage and other industrial streams without any preconditioning as well as in terms of achieving improved recoveries and copper cathode quality. INTRODUCTION The concentration and separation of copper from primary leachates is one of the key operations in the hydrometallurgical processing of oxide ores (Langner, 2011). Conventionally, this basic operation is conducted by submitting the pregnant leach solution (PLS), with a 1–5 g/L Cu content, from the initial sulfuric acid leach to a solvent-extraction (SX) process in which copper reports to the organic phase. After phase separation, the metal is stripped from the extractant/diluent mixture employing sulfuric acid to furnish a concentrated metal solution, usually containing 40–50 g Cu/L. The final products of the overall process are copper cathodes, which are obtained from a terminal electrowinning step.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019