Recovery of Mercury From Concentrates by Cupric Chloride Leaching and Aqueous Electrolysis
Description:The Bureau of Mines developed a hydrometallurgical method for recovering mercury metal from mercury sulfide concentrates. Sulfide flotation concentrate from the McDermitt Mine was leached in a cupric chloride solution at 80° C. The redox potential of the solution was maintained at 850 mV during leaching by chlorine sparging. Mercury extractions exceeded 99 pct in 3 h of leaching. After leaching, the pH of the solu-tion was increased from 1 to 4.5 to precipitate copper as atacamite. The pregnant solution typically containing 100 giL Hg was sent to elec-trolysis to produce high-purity mercury metal and chlorine for recycle. In a 200-A electrolytic cell operated for 24 h, current efficiency was 99 pct and the energy requirement was 0.9 kW·h/lb of mercury produced. Mercury removal from the waste stream was also investigated. Iron or zinc cementation, sulfide precipitation with H2S, and activated carbon adsorption all decreased the mercury concentration from 10 giL to 0.01 mglL, which is less than the Environmental Protection Agency limit on wastewater of 0.02 mg/L.
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