Differences between Column and Heap Leaching and Their Implications for Laboratory and Operational Practice

Additonal authors: Petersen, J.. 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

van Staden, P.J.

Several differences exist between the columns used for laboratory simulations of heap leaching and commercial heaps. Column walls support part of the weight of the ore and restrict the particle packing arrangements. Columns are typically of a diameter that is smaller than the dripper spacing to be used on the commercial heaps. The stacking practices that cause segregation and stratification on heaps are absent from columns. Intuitively, these physical differences would be expected to be the reasons behind the observed differences between column and heap leaching performance. But how can they be quantified, and what is the magnitude of the differences? Could some of these differences be built into column leaching experiments in order to better simulate commercial-scale heap leaching performance to ease the scale-up calculations from column leaching data? Alternatively, could heap construction practices be improved so that the ideal performance obtained in columns could be emulated on heaps? Data from a few heap leaching cases studies that permit direct comparisons between column and heap leaching performance is analysed, to reveal the extent of the differences in resistance to mass transfer. Discussion is provided on the implications for column and heap leaching practice, and for scale-up design procedures. INTRODUCTION Differences have been known to exist between leaching performance observed in laboratory columns and that of commercial-scale heaps. Both the heap leaching kinetics and finally achievable extent of extraction are generally found to be inferior in heaps compared to that achieved in columns. Heap leaching design engineers extrapolate the anticipated heap leaching performance by multiplying the time-axis of a column-leaching curve by a factor of about 2 and the extraction-axis by a factor of about 0.8, as explained by Jansen and Taylor (2002), Scheffel (2002), John (2011) and Scheffel, Guzmán, and Dreier (2016). The procedure is illustrated in Figure 1 by means of a hypothetical example. The solid line represents the leaching performance observed in a laboratory column, and the dashed line represents the anticipated leaching performance of a heap, extrapolated from the column leaching data using these empirical scale-up factors.
Mots Clés: Copper 2019, COM2019