Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy]]> vol. 109 num. 6 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Increasing the capacity of existing and new exothermic autoclave circuits</b>]]> Pressure leach autoclave circuits are employed in the leaching of ores, concentrates, mattes, alloys and intermediates for the recovery of metals into solution. Once the metals are extracted into solution, the value metals can be recovered by hydrometallurgical means such as by purification followed by electrowinning, hydrogen reduction, pyrohydrolysis, crystallization and other unit operations. In many of these integrated flowsheets the pressure leach step is pivotal to the recovery of the value metals from the host material. Furthermore, the autoclave circuit invariably is a high capital cost component of the plant and an area that is carefully scrutinized when debottlenecking and capacity increases are being considered. This paper identifies a unique proven way of increasing the capacity of existing or new exothermic pressure oxidative leach autoclave circuits by as much as two or three times. <![CDATA[<b>A cobalt solvent extraction investigation in Africa's Copper Belt</b>]]> Processing of copper-cobalt orebodies in Africa's Copper Belt has received much recent attention with various flowsheet options being developed specifically for the refining of cobalt. The upfront leach and copper refining routes are well understood whereas the refining of cobalt is more complex, requiring numerous impurity removal steps to produce high purity metal. This paper describes an investigation into one of the possible processing steps in the refining of cobalt, namely, cobalt solvent extraction. The paper emphasizes the importance of upstream impurity removal to achieve the required cobalt solvent extraction feed composition. 18% (v/v) Cyanex 272 in an aliphatic diluent is used as the organic phase. The pH profiles in the various stages are evaluated in order to obtain a raffinate containing <10 mg/l cobalt and with a low magnesium content reporting to the stripping section. The pH profile is also used to minimize the impurity deportment to the cobalt electrolyte. The effect of adding a preneutralization stage before feeding the organic phase to the extraction circuit is investigated. Zinc build-up in the stripping stages is also looked at. It is recommended for the purpose of this study that four extraction stages at an O:A ratio of 1 with a pH profile from 4.9 to 5.7 be employed. The pH is controlled with 40 g/l NaOH. A preneutralization stage is required, where the organic phase is contacted with 10 M NaOH. Two scrubbing stages are recommended at an O:A ratio of 40, using the cobalt electrowinning advance electrolyte as the scrub liquor. Three strip stages are to be employed at an O:A ratio of 0.67. <![CDATA[<b>Copper electrowinning: Theoretical and practical design</b>]]> An engineering house's perspective of required inputs in designing a copper electrowinning tank house and ancillary equipment calls for both understanding of the key fundamental controlling mechanisms and the practical requirements to optimize cost, schedule and product quality. For direct or post solvent extraction copper electrowinning design, key theoretical considerations include current density and efficiency, electrolyte ion concentrations, cell voltages and electrode overpotentials, physical cell dimensions, cell flow rates and electrode face velocities, and electrolyte temperature. Practical considerations for optimal project goals are location of plant, layout of tank house and ancillary equipment, elevations, type of cell furniture, required cathode quality, number and type of cells, material of construction of cells, structure and interconnecting equipment, production cycles, anode and cathode material of construction and dimensions, cathode stripping philosophy, plating aids, acid mist management, piping layouts, standard electrical equipment sizes, electrolyte filtration, impurity concentrations, bus bar and rectifier/transformer design, electrical isolation protection, crane management, sampling and quality control management, staffing skills and client expectations. All of the above are required to produce an engineered product that can be designed easily, constructed quickly and operated with flexibility. <![CDATA[<b>Mixing system design for the Tati Activox<sup>® </sup>autoclave</b>]]> The Tati Activox® Project will be the first full-scale implementation of the patented Activox® process (The Tati Activox® project was deferred in 2008. Please refer to the Norilsk Nickel press issue on the topic for more info). The process was developed by Norilsk Process Technology and has been tested on Tati mine sulphide concentrates in laboratory, pilot and demonstration plant scales and demonstrated its viability. There are inherent risks to the final scale-up of the process from the demo plant and one of them will be investigated in this paper. Compartment 1 is designed to leach approximately 77% of the total nickel leached. For this reason agitation requirements in the first compartment of the autoclave are reviewed. An attempt is made to minimize the process and mechanical risks associated in achieving oxygen mass transfer into the slurry solution. The agitator powers for oxygen mass transfer are calculated using empirical correlations and compared to demonstration plant testwork. The resulting gassed power per unit volume (P/V) is higher than most commercial autoclaves and raises uncertainty on the viability of using such high unit power inputs. Additionally, there is concern about the ability of the autoclave shell to withstand and support the higher loading of large agitators. An alternative solution to designing for the increased P/V is assessed in which the number of compartments within the autoclave is reduced from 5 to 4 by removing the compartment wall separating compartments 1 and 2. This results in an enlarged first compartment containing 3 agitators instead of 2. Therefore the compartment 1 oxygen demand is supplied through 3 agitators, which lowers the P/V per agitator. The reduction in the number of autoclave compartments raises the potential for short-circuiting the mean flow pattern by slurry particles. Short-circuiting and low velocity zones could result in a lower recovery of metal and localized hot spots, respectively. A computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analysis was conducted to quantify these concerns and also to evaluate further design considerations. The results indicate that the proposed design change to 4 compartments affects short-circuiting. The impact of increased short-circuiting on the overall autoclave recoveries is not quantified, however; it is expected to be negligible based on testwork done in the Tati Demonstration Plant and similar modifications made to another operating autoclave. The CFD analysis also suggests that there will be no low velocity zones within the compartment. <![CDATA[<b>pH advanced process control solution for Impala BMR first stage high pressure acid-oxygen leach</b>]]> The CSense advanced process control (APC) solution's main objective was to improve the stability of the pH in the first stage leach process thereby improving nickel and iron extraction efficiencies and reducing the base metal (BM) content in the platinum group metals (PGM) concentrate. By improving the stability of the control of the pH on the first stage leach it had the corresponding effect of improving the Ni extraction efficiency by 0.5% and the Fe extraction efficiency by 3.3%. The system relieved the operators of many decisions that were virtually impossible to make given the complex, variable and real-time nature of the processes in their charge. On the operational side, the operators understand the APC system and they trust it. Another benefit is the reduction in pH peaks in the autoclave, which can oxidize certain elements whereby they become difficult, if not impossible, to leach. These elements go right through the process and end up contaminating the PGM solids, with the result that the entire batch has to be recycled through a lengthy and costly processing pipeline. <![CDATA[<b>Oxidative precipitation of Mn(II) from cobalt leach solutions using dilute SO<sub>2</sub>/air gas mixture</b>]]> The use of SO2/air gas mixtures as an oxidant to precipitate Mn from Co(II) leach liquors was investigated. The effects of SO2/air ratio, pH and temperature on Mn precipitation were evaluated. It was found that the use of SO2/air gas mixtures resulted in significantly higher Mn precipitation kinetics compared to using air or pure O2alone. The SO2/air ratio was varied from 0% to 6% SO2 (v/v) in air and similar Mn removals were achieved at 0.75% to 3% SO2at pH 3. The solution pH was varied from pH 2 to pH 4; Mn precipitation did not increase considerably from pH 2 to pH 3, but increased significantly at pH values higher than pH 3. Cobalt co-precipitation also increased as pH increased, with 1% Co co-precipitation at pH 3. An increase in temperature from 30°C to 60°C also increased Mn precipitation and 100% Mn precipitated at 50°C. Cobalt co-precipitation also increased significantly with an increase in temperature. An activation energy of 25 kJ/mol was calculated from the Arrhenius plot, which is an indication that the precipitation reactions were both chemically and diffusion controlled. XRD analysis showed that Mn precipitated in the form of Mn2O3instead of MnO2 that was predicted from thermodynamic data. SEM and XRD analysis also revealed that the precipitate consisted mainly of gypsum or bassanite (99%), with the Mn containing phase (< 1%) distributed within the gypsum phase. The co-precipitated Co reported to the Mn phase. <![CDATA[<b>Solvent extraction design consideration for the Tati Activox<sup>® </sup>plant</b>]]> The Tati Activox® Project (TA®P) is the first step towards the implementation of the Norilsk Nickel Activox®process. The ultra fine grinding (UFG) and autoclave pressure leach process conditions are the heart of the Activox®patent. Low grade base metal sulphide concentrates are leached in the process to recover the base metals and to produce LME grade nickel and copper cathodes and cobalt carbonates. The downstream processing of the metal-containing liquor produced by this process includes solvent extraction circuits to extract and concentrate metal-rich solutions, before the various final products are obtained. This paper gives an overview of many of the relevant design aspects taken into consideration in the design of the Tati Activox®solvent extraction circuits. It addresses key design elements related to leach process conditions such as scaling, materials selection for corrosive solutions, pH control, crud formation and treatment, multiple SX trains designed to prevent organic cross-contamination, and design aspects related to the mitigation of fire risks.