New Developments in Hydrometallurgical Copper Ore and Concentrate Leaching
Additonal authors: . 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
The hydrometallurgical treatment of copper ores and concentrates continues to be an active field of innovation. The direct extraction of copper from ores containing chalcopyrite is an important development to provide an alternative to flotation-smelting and refining. Jetti Resources (with the University of British Columbia) and the JX Nippon Group have developed process options for chalcopyrite heap leaching. Biological heap leaching developments for chalcopyrite are also continuing in parallel. These direct leaching technologies are also very attractive for arsenical ores.
The atmospheric leaching of copper concentrates is an attractive option along with autoclave processing. The Galvanox™ Process is the focus of commercialization by InCoR Galvanox Holdings under exclusive license by the University of British Columbia. The Galvanox™ Process can be used to treat chalcopyrite or enargite containing concentrates to high copper extraction with simultaneous precipitation of arsenic as atmospheric scorodite. FLSmidth has continued development of the Rapid Oxidative Leach (ROL) and associated technologies for chalcopyrite leaching. The Glencore Albion Copper Process using ultra fine grinding of copper concentrates and atmospheric leaching has found application in central Africa.
The pressure leaching of copper concentrates continues to be attractive for rapid, complete oxidation of sulfide minerals with high copper extraction and arsenic stabilization of iron-arsenate minerals and precipitates. The Ecometales PLCC project is designed to use high temperature total pressure oxidation for treatment of an arsenical copper concentrate with use of existing copper SX-EW facilities for copper cathode production. The excess acid from the autoclave process will be used to make up the acid demand for associated copper ore heap and dump leaching operations.
The recovery of copper from ores is dominated by the flotation of copper concentrates followed by smelting—converting and electrorefining. This process has been enabled by the development of froth flotation and progressively made more efficient by advances in smelting and converting technologies.
Copper 2019, COM2019