Advances in Copper Solvent Extraction

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1989
The recovery of Copper by solvent extraction was arguably the most significant hydrometallurgical development of the 1960's. However, only dilute solutions at relatively high ph. could be treated effectively. ICVAcorga introduced in the 1970's the much stronger salicylaldoxime based reagents, which resulted in a dramatic change in plant configurations. So for example plants which normally use 3 extraction stages and 3 stripping stages could be reduced to 2 + 2 staging or 2 + 1 staging, even for high copper tenors at low ph. Leach liquors up to 40 g A copper are being treated at some locations so that almost any copper bearing liquor can now be purified by solvent extraction. Following a considerable amount of research and development effort ICI/Acorga have made further significant advances in the application of copper solvent extraction. The first of these is in computerised flowsheeting. In conjunction with ICI's Process Technology Department, Acorga have developed the Minchem Computer program, which uses laboratory generated equilibrium data to facilitate optimisation of metallurgical operating parameters. The program can operate in two modes, prediction and assessment so that given suitable extract and strip isotherms plant performance can be predicted for a given set of conditions. Alternatively existing plant performance can be assessed rapidly and accurately, thus providing a valuable quality control tool. Pilot plant work can now be restricted to evaluation of the physical aspects of the SX circuits, and to looking for the unexpected. Secondly using the patented 5-Nonyl Salicylaldoxime in precise admixture with a number of carefully selected strip modifiers, the Acorga M-range has resulted. Reagent selection from these new extractants can now be based on how the reagent can alleviate the remaining problems such as hydrolytic stability, transfer of iron, and organic losses by entrainment which may be related to particular features of the operating plant. Thus the Acorga M-range has enhanced and significantly extended the use of solvent extraction for copper, whilst refinements in the processing of metallurgical data has considerably simplified circuit design and analysis of results.
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