Development Of A Novel Three-Step SX Process To Recover Copper From An Acidic Solution

Minango, R.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2005
Solvent extraction of Cu from acidic leach, using an oxime extractant, e.g. LIX 984 or Acorga is a well-known and establishedprocess. As the process advances, Cu is extracted to the solvent and is replaced by H+in the aqueous phase. At high acidity the distribution coefficient of Cu between the solvent and the aqueous phase decreases, and eventually a relatively high concentration of Cu remains in the raffinate, regardless of the number of equilibrium stages. In many processes this phenomenon is immaterial, as the raffinate returns to the leaching and no copper is lost. But when the copper raffinate is used for processing of additional metals, minimal concentration of Cu in the raffinate is essential for an effective process. The recommended process includes three steps: SX-1?standard extraction of Cu with oxime. The resulting raffinate contains about 6?8 g/lCu and 50 g/lH2SO4. SX-N?Extraction of most of the acid into an amine-based solvent, and stripping it with a base, e.g. aqueous ammonia, caustic, Na2CO3etc. The extraction removes no metals, but decreases the concentration of acid from 50 to10 g/l. SX-2?Extraction of the neutralized solution once more with oxime, to remove the residual copper. Such a process enables one to get down to 100?150 ppm Cu in the final raffinate. This process was developed and tested in the R&D facility at Chambishi Metals plc, by a joint team of Chambishi & Bateman, using Cognis LIX 984N and real solutions from the plant. In the laboratory the equilibrium isotherms for SX-1, SX-2 and the neutralization were developed. Computer simulation of the results showed that the optimal configuration is two stages for both extraction and stripping for SX-1. For SX2, 2?3 stages of extraction and two stages of stripping are needed. The stripping stages may be common to both SX-1 and SX-2. The neutralization of SX1 raffinate was tested both by conventional precipitation with lime and by extraction with alamine-based solvent extraction and stripping with a solution of 10% NaOH. For the SX-N only one stage was needed for both the extraction and stripping. The bench scale pilot plant was run for both SX-1 and SX-2. The results were very similar to the simulated ones, and the configuration of 2E2S for SX-1 and 3E2S for SX 2 delivered the required raffinate with less than 150 ppm Cu.
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