Simultaneous recovery of silver and manganese from Ag-Mn ores by acidified thiourea

Pesic, B. ; Wey, J. E.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
Introduction One important class of manganiferrous ores is manganiferrous-silver ores. They occur in the oxidized portions of the silver deposits of the western United States. Silver is often associated with manganese oxides, which in some ore deposits are dispersed through calcite, causing the black color of the host rock, known as black calcite. Black calcites can occur in carbonate rocks (0.3 to 50 kg Ag/t) and in volcanic rocks (less than 30 g Ag/t). Silver mineralization associated with manganese oxides and black calcites can occur in veins (Hewett, 1968) or as disseminations (Graybeal, 1981). In the US, silver-bearing manganese veins are located in a broad arc that extends from southern Colorado to southwest New Mexico, southern Arizona, and southeast CaliforĀ¬nia (Hewett, 1964). Areas of disseminated silver-manganese mineralization include the Creede and Silver Cliff districts of Colorado and the Tombstone and Hardshell districts of Arizona (Graybeal, 1981). These deposits are also characterized by significant amounts of silver halides - cerargyrite (AgCl), bromargyrite (AgBr), and iodargyrite (AgI). Black calcites are also common in these deposits. Oxidized silver ores containing the higher oxides of manganese are generally refractory to hydrometallurgical methods of treatment. In the past when these ores could not be smelted, they were treated generally by cyanidation at very low efficiency. The US Bureau of Mines (USBM) studied the problem of treating silver-manganese ores in the early 1920s (Clevenger and Caron, 1925). It was found that the refractory silver in the original ore was insoluble in all the common solvents for metallic silver and its salts. The conclusion was that to obtain the highest recovery of silver, all the manganese had to be dissolved or the higher oxides of manganese reduced to manganous oxide. More recent results from treating refractory silverĀ¬manganese ores were given by USBM (Scheiner et al., 1973). The silver ores from Candeleria District, NV, and Round Mountain District, CO, were investigated. Electrooxidation experiments recovered only 34% silver with minor amounts of manganese dissolved. Sulfurous acid pretreatment followed by cyanidation revealed that silver extracted was proportional to the amount of SO2 used. A similar approach, using sulfurous acid pretreatment followed by cyanidation, was also proposed by Rhoades et al. (1984). Hazen Research Inc. performed extensive testing on silver and manganese dissolutions from Ag-Mn ores obtained from the Candeleria and Round Mountain ore deposits. The methods examined were direct cyanidation, pretreatment with sulfurous acid followed by cyanidation, malonitrile leach, and leaching with ammonium hydroxide-sodium thiosulfate under slight oxygen pressure. The results were not satisfactory. The importance of the vast reserves of Ag-Mn ores and the lack of an efficient method to recover these metals warranted a search for new technologies. One novel method for extraction of these metals is treatment of Ag-Mn ores with acidified thiourea solutions. Preliminary results of the leaching of silver and manganese from Ag-Mn ores were very encouraging (Pesic, 1984a) ; thus, it was decided to examine the new lixiviant in more detail. Experimental Ore from the Round Mountain District was studied. It was crushed, ground, and dry sieved into monosized fractions in the range of 16 to +400 mesh. The ore composition was about 90 g Ag/t and 3% Mn, depending slightly on size. The leaching experiments were performed in apparatus described elsewhere (Pesic, 1982 and 1984b). All experiments were performed at constant temperature conditions. The leaching residues were analyzed for silver and manganese. Atomic adsorption was used to analyze the solution samples and fire assaying to analyze the leaching residues (for silver). The standard experimental conditions are given in
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