Slag Reduction and Settling for Improved Metal Recovery

Additonal authors: Lebel, T.. 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

Davis, B. R.

Settling of copper, lead, and other metals in slags is an important part of overall recovery of metals, both in primary and secondary operations. The impact of slag reduction on settling is not well known. This is important since the cycle time for slag cleaning can be significantly changed with reduction of slag, through a decrease in slag viscosity and growth of metal/sulphide particles. KPM has worked with a number of primary and secondary recyclers to better understand how reduction of slag can improve overall operation. In this presentation, we describe the type of test work and analysis done and how this information can be used to guide improvements in metal recovery from slags. INTRODUCTION Typically, copper smelter slags contain about 1-2% copper, both in the form of copper and copper sulphide beads and dissolved copper oxide in the slag (converter slags are recycled to the smelter). With the average grade of world copper deposits close to 0.7%, it is practical to recovery copper from these slags. This is done routinely by one of two methods. The first method uses slow cooling in large ladles or beds to grow particles of copper sulphide. The slag is then crushed, milled, and floated for copper recovery. The slow cooling promotes precipitation and growing of the sulphide particles from the solution and then, the slag can then be milled to recover the copper through froth flotation. A consideration of this process includes the energy cost related to grinding, the use of water, capital cost for ladles, and the availability of tailing dumps. At the same time, the retreatment of the Cu concentrate produced in the mill will displace fresh concentrate, which ultimately results in a reduction of the throughput. The second method is the so-called “slag cleaning” and is based on the settling of copper and copper sulphides particles dispersed in the slag. This is achieved by decreasing its viscosity by increasing the slag temperature and reducing the iron spinel solid phases (magnetite) that increase the apparent viscosity of the slag. Typically, the reduction does not extend to the reduction of copper, and soluble copper (mainly as oxide) and fine matte particles remain at concentrations typically at or above 0.5% (Cardona et al., 2011; Cardona, 2011). This is an improvement on 20 years ago when slag was sent to dumps at 1% or less (Demetrio et al., 2000).
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019