Hydrometallurgical Production of Copper From Flotation Concentrates
Description:Dissolution of chalcopyrite with acidified ferric sulfate produces a sulfur layer on the unreacted chalcopyrite surface that interferes with further dissolution. The U.S. Bureau of Mines has developed a process to improve the leaching kinetics of these types of diffusion-controlled systems. The system features the Bureau-developed turbomill, an attrition grinder that scrubs the reaction product coating away from the unreacted mineral grains during leaching. The system can be operated continuously at any temperature up to the boiling point of the leaching agent. This method is a hydrometallurgical alternative to chalcopyrite smelter technology and eliminates sulfur dioxide emission problems with its associated costs. Batch testing at 900 C with the chalcopyrite-ferric sulfate system resulted in copper extraction exceeding 99 pct. At an optimal energy consumption of 1,520 kW· hjst, 95 pct of the copper was extracted. The pregnant liquor was clarified and tested for typical solvent-extraction recovery of the copper. Two-stage extraction and two-stage stripping recovered 96 pct of the copper in an electrolyte suitable for copper electrowinning.
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