Bioleaching Of Base Metal Sulphide Concentrates: A Comparison Of High And Low Temperature Bioleaching
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 2000
Billiton Process Research has carried out extensive research over the past four years to develop new process technology using bioleaching for extraction of copper and nickel from their sulphide concentrates. Continuous pilot scale and laboratory batch testwork has been carried out with adapted mesophile bacterial cultures at40°C?45°C, moderate thermophile cultures at 50°C?55°C and thermophile cultures at 65°C?85°C. Pilot scale work has demonstrated the commercial viability of mesophile cultures for bioleaching of secondary copper sulphide and nickel sulphide concentrates. Moderate thermophiles offer benefits in terms of reduced cooling requirements for commercial reactors and, in the case of bioleaching of nickel concentrates, some selectivity over bioleaching of pyrite. Continuous pilot scale testwork has shown that thermophiles achieve efficient bioleaching of primary copper sulphide and nickel sulphide concentrates, giving much higher recoveries than achieved by bioleaching with a mesophile or moderate thermophile culture.