Additonal authors: Li, Lei. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:
Direct smelting of copper concentrate to blister copper has the advantages of energy saving and environmental protection. There has been a lot of effort invested in process development including test work and theoretic analysis in the past half century. However, the process has only been applied commercially to a few smelters that treat chalcocite types of copper concentrate. The main limitation to treating chalcopyrite types of copper concentrate is high copper content in smelting slag and low direct copper recovery. Thus intensive slag cleaning is needed. In this paper, the thermodynamic analysis was mainly carried out for the multiphase equilibrium of direct to blister copper smelting for both chalcopyrite and chalcocite concentrates. The practical problems in direct to blister copper smelting, which are mainly in copper content in slag, are clarified. The operational window of slag composition for different temperatures and oxygen partial pressure for the treatment of chalcocite type concentrates is identified. The process operation optimization for the blending of chalcocite, pyrite and chalcopyrite concentrates was done.
The extractive metallurgy of copper can be divided into two broad groups of processes, namely, pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy, and the former is dominant. About 80% of copper in the world is produced by pyrometallurgy (Christopher et al., 2006). The first stage of conventional copper pyrometallurgy processing is to smelt copper concentrate to copper matte composed of FeS and Cu2S with slagging to remove a proportion of the iron (Gargul, Boryczko, & Bukowska, 2017). The smelting processes include bath and flash smelting. The second stage of the process is to convert copper matte to blister copper. In most cases, the copper matte is converted in Peirce Smith (P-S) converters, which are batch operations (Kubiszewski, 2015). The P-S converting can be divided into two periods, slagging and copper blowing. During slagging period, FeS in copper matte is oxidized to FeO, which reacts with silica flux forming slag. When the iron content in matte is less than 1%, copper begins to oxidize and reduce to form blister copper (Kucharski, Sak, Madej, Wędrychowicz, & Mróz, 2013).