Minimizing Lead Contamination in Copper Produced by Solvent Extraction-Electrowinning
Description:The Bureau of Mines conducted a laboratory investigation of copper electrowinning from electrolytes produced by solvent extraction. The purpose of the research was to gain a better understanding of the fundamental relationship between copper electrowinning conditions, anode corrosion, and cathode purity. Processing variables were evaluated in a cyclic semicontinuous system in which the depleted electrolyte was used to strip copper from loaded organic extractant. For the production of high quality copper cathodes, the electrolyte was dosed with cobalt and stripped of organic solvent extraction reagent. An optimum cobalt addition of 60 ppm, and removal of the entrained extractant with activated carbon provided the best conditions for electrowinning copper containing the least amount of lead and controlling anode corrosion. As little as 13 ppm of the entrained organic extractant, LIX 64-N, significantly accelerated anode corro-sion. However, the addition of 1,000 ppm of organic diluent kerosine did not affect anode corrosion. After cobalt dosing and removing the entrained extractant, cathodes containing less than 2 ppm lead were consistently electrowon at widely varied current densities, electrolyte copper and acid concentrations, and temperatures. Dosing of the electrolyte with selected impurities including magnesium, aluminum, manganese, and iron did not affect the cathode purity. However, 0.05 giL of chloride ions markedly increased anode corrosion and the sub-sequent transfer of lead to the cathode copper.
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