Utilizing Ion Exchange for Impurity Control in Copper Electrolyte

Additonal authors: Kryst, K.. 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

Elkayar, K.

The increasing need to process lower grade contaminated copper concentrates and simultaneously produce higher purity copper cathodes necessitates a more diligent control in the electrorefining process. Ion exchange processes can be a powerful tool in controlling electrolyte impurities to ensure trouble free operation within the tankhouse and to help maintain cathode purity. In addition, some impurities can be recovered as a value added product. The use of a short bed ion exchange process provides a unique opportunity for impurity management in copper refineries. Several metals are discussed in this paper, including Sb, Bi, As and Ni and their methods of control and recovery within the copper electrolyte circuit. INTRODUCTION To produce a high purity copper product by electro-refining a copper electrolyte, it is important to control the concentration of impurities such as arsenic (As), bismuth (Bi), antimony (Sb), and nickel (Ni). These impurities are introduced into the electrolyte from the copper anode and can affect the copper product and the production operation. The presence of As in the copper product results in a lower electric conductivity and reduced workability of the copper. High levels of Bi in the electrolyte will result in a copper cathode product containing Bi. High Sb concentration will cause undesired floating slimes. A variety of methods have been developed to control the level of these impurities in the copper electrolyte including precipitation, liquid extraction, and ion exchange. These impurities can be recovered and used. This paper discusses novel methods that utilize short bed ion exchange technology to control these impurities. Also, the use of ion exchange to recover acid from the liberator cells bleed for reuse in the tankhouse is reviewed. SHORT BED ION EXCHANGE Short bed ion exchange technology has been employed extensively in the metal finishing industries for over forty years. Unlike conventional ion exchange, short beds are fixed beds without freeboard space. The application of short bed technology results in significant benefits when compared to conventional ion exchange. The resin used in this technology has a significantly smaller diameter than conventional ion exchange resin. As a result of the smaller resin size, exchange kinetics improves dramatically. This facilitates operation at higher flow rates and the use of smaller beds with a small mass transfer zone length. Smaller beds are especially important for applications that use chelating resins due to the high cost of the resin.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019