Additonal authors: Shingu, M.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:
The Toyo Smelter and Refinery, owned by Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd. (SMM) is located in the coastal zone of Saijo City and Niihama City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. The refinery has been producing copper, sulfuric acid, and precious metals such as gold, silver, and PGMs. Previously, the process of precious metals recovery was a combination of pyrometallurgy and an electro-refining process with the conventional cupellation for around 400 years. However, this process had some major problems such as non-efficient recovery of valuable metals, high environmental risk by pyrometallurgy, high cost for maintenance of equipment and so on. In order to solve these problems, a thorough hydrometallurgical process for precious metals refining using chlorine leaching technology was originated and developed by Sumitomo and thereafter commercialized in 2004 at Toyo Copper Smelter and Refinery. This new process enabled shorter-term recovery of gold and manpower saving, and occupational safety and working conditions have also been improved. Superiority over the existing hydrometallurgical processes was also confirmed, for example by the achievement of 99.99% pure silver production without an electro-refining process. This paper summarizes the hydrometallurgical technologies for precious metals recovery such as chlorine leaching of copper anode slime for silver recovery, solvent extraction (SX) for gold recovery, and ion exchange (IX) for PGMs recovery. It also presents a unique silver purification process.
Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd. (SMM) produces copper, precious metals and rare metals as by-products at the Toyo Copper Smelter and Refinery, and nickel and cobalt at the Niihama Nickel Refinery. Precious metals contained in nickel ore are also separated and refined at the Toyo Refinery after concentration.
SMM has been refining precious metals using the pyrometallurgical method. In recent years, we have revamped the separation and refining process of precious metals dramatically by making use of advanced hydrometallurgical and engineering technology developed in the company. In this paper, we introduce the history of development and techniques of this process, and also introduce in detail the technologies of gold refining, PGMs recovery, selenium recovery, and silver refining which have been particularly difficult to achieve.