Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=0038-223X20090011&lang=en vol. 109 num. 11 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Flowsheet considerations for copper cobalt projects</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0038-223X2009001100001&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The Copperbelt areas of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have recently been seeing the development of a significant number of new projects. Due to the current economic climate, some of these projects have been delayed but the region remains an important resource for copper and cobalt for future years. Many of these projects will utilize an agitation leach followed by solvent extraction and electrowinning to recover both copper and cobalt. The flowsheet route for copper is fairly well established while the processing options for cobalt vary considerably depending on the final product (metal or salt) the operator wishes to make. The mineralogy of ores in the area is typically associated with high gangue acid consumption during the leaching process. This has resulted in acid availability to the area being constrained and acid prices have risen accordingly. Agitation leach circuits, typically, have a tight water balance which needs to be maintained and a bleed of process liquor needs to be continuously removed from the circuit in order to maintain this balance. This bleed, typically, contains fairly high levels of acid and requires neutralization prior to tailings disposal or secondary metal recovery. It is, therefore, desirable to minimize the acid concentration in this bleed stream in order to decrease total acid requirements and neutralization costs for the process plant. An in depth case study by Cognis and Bateman Engineering evaluated three different flowsheets with the aim of determining relative operating costs between the three alternatives, together with differences in plant capital cost requirements. <![CDATA[<b>Impact of plant upgrade and DMS on the processing capability of the Tati Nickel concentrator - a case study</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0038-223X2009001100002&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The Copperbelt areas of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have recently been seeing the development of a significant number of new projects. Due to the current economic climate, some of these projects have been delayed but the region remains an important resource for copper and cobalt for future years. Many of these projects will utilize an agitation leach followed by solvent extraction and electrowinning to recover both copper and cobalt. The flowsheet route for copper is fairly well established while the processing options for cobalt vary considerably depending on the final product (metal or salt) the operator wishes to make. The mineralogy of ores in the area is typically associated with high gangue acid consumption during the leaching process. This has resulted in acid availability to the area being constrained and acid prices have risen accordingly. Agitation leach circuits, typically, have a tight water balance which needs to be maintained and a bleed of process liquor needs to be continuously removed from the circuit in order to maintain this balance. This bleed, typically, contains fairly high levels of acid and requires neutralization prior to tailings disposal or secondary metal recovery. It is, therefore, desirable to minimize the acid concentration in this bleed stream in order to decrease total acid requirements and neutralization costs for the process plant. An in depth case study by Cognis and Bateman Engineering evaluated three different flowsheets with the aim of determining relative operating costs between the three alternatives, together with differences in plant capital cost requirements. <![CDATA[<b>Milling circuit selection for the Nkomati 375 ktpm concentrator</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0038-223X2009001100003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The Copperbelt areas of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have recently been seeing the development of a significant number of new projects. Due to the current economic climate, some of these projects have been delayed but the region remains an important resource for copper and cobalt for future years. Many of these projects will utilize an agitation leach followed by solvent extraction and electrowinning to recover both copper and cobalt. The flowsheet route for copper is fairly well established while the processing options for cobalt vary considerably depending on the final product (metal or salt) the operator wishes to make. The mineralogy of ores in the area is typically associated with high gangue acid consumption during the leaching process. This has resulted in acid availability to the area being constrained and acid prices have risen accordingly. Agitation leach circuits, typically, have a tight water balance which needs to be maintained and a bleed of process liquor needs to be continuously removed from the circuit in order to maintain this balance. This bleed, typically, contains fairly high levels of acid and requires neutralization prior to tailings disposal or secondary metal recovery. It is, therefore, desirable to minimize the acid concentration in this bleed stream in order to decrease total acid requirements and neutralization costs for the process plant. An in depth case study by Cognis and Bateman Engineering evaluated three different flowsheets with the aim of determining relative operating costs between the three alternatives, together with differences in plant capital cost requirements. <![CDATA[<b>Soluble metal recovery improvement using high density thickeners in a CCD circuit: Ruashi II case study</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0038-223X2009001100004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The Copperbelt areas of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have recently been seeing the development of a significant number of new projects. Due to the current economic climate, some of these projects have been delayed but the region remains an important resource for copper and cobalt for future years. Many of these projects will utilize an agitation leach followed by solvent extraction and electrowinning to recover both copper and cobalt. The flowsheet route for copper is fairly well established while the processing options for cobalt vary considerably depending on the final product (metal or salt) the operator wishes to make. The mineralogy of ores in the area is typically associated with high gangue acid consumption during the leaching process. This has resulted in acid availability to the area being constrained and acid prices have risen accordingly. Agitation leach circuits, typically, have a tight water balance which needs to be maintained and a bleed of process liquor needs to be continuously removed from the circuit in order to maintain this balance. This bleed, typically, contains fairly high levels of acid and requires neutralization prior to tailings disposal or secondary metal recovery. It is, therefore, desirable to minimize the acid concentration in this bleed stream in order to decrease total acid requirements and neutralization costs for the process plant. An in depth case study by Cognis and Bateman Engineering evaluated three different flowsheets with the aim of determining relative operating costs between the three alternatives, together with differences in plant capital cost requirements. <![CDATA[<b>Modernization of the BCL smelter</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0038-223X2009001100005&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The Copperbelt areas of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have recently been seeing the development of a significant number of new projects. Due to the current economic climate, some of these projects have been delayed but the region remains an important resource for copper and cobalt for future years. Many of these projects will utilize an agitation leach followed by solvent extraction and electrowinning to recover both copper and cobalt. The flowsheet route for copper is fairly well established while the processing options for cobalt vary considerably depending on the final product (metal or salt) the operator wishes to make. The mineralogy of ores in the area is typically associated with high gangue acid consumption during the leaching process. This has resulted in acid availability to the area being constrained and acid prices have risen accordingly. Agitation leach circuits, typically, have a tight water balance which needs to be maintained and a bleed of process liquor needs to be continuously removed from the circuit in order to maintain this balance. This bleed, typically, contains fairly high levels of acid and requires neutralization prior to tailings disposal or secondary metal recovery. It is, therefore, desirable to minimize the acid concentration in this bleed stream in order to decrease total acid requirements and neutralization costs for the process plant. An in depth case study by Cognis and Bateman Engineering evaluated three different flowsheets with the aim of determining relative operating costs between the three alternatives, together with differences in plant capital cost requirements. <![CDATA[<b>Novel redesign of a pressure leach autoclave by a South African Platinum producer</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0038-223X2009001100006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The Impala Platinum Limited Base Metals Refinery in Springs, South Africa, refines convertor matte containing base metals and PGM's (platinum group metals) using a hydrometallurgical process. In addition to a PGM-rich concentrate that is further refined, the Base Metals Refinery produces nickel (in powder or briquette form), copper cathodes and cobalt powder. Five leaching stages are utilized to remove the base metals and impurities from the PGM concentrate. The project described in this paper involves a radical redesign of the second stage leach autoclave with the aim of reducing maintenance costs and downtime, increasing throughput and ensuring a safer working environment. The second stage leach process at the Base Metals Refinery, produces a PGM-rich residue through the extraction of copper and any remaining base metals from the first stage leach solid residue material. Leaching is performed in an autoclave operating at a pressure of 600 kPaG and a temperature of 140°C to 150°C. Concentrated H2SO4 is added to the feed to produce a solution with a free acid content between 10 and 30 g/L and a pH of less than 2. Oxygen is passed into the 1st and 2nd compartments of the autoclave. As a result of the aggressive, highly oxidizing conditions within the autoclave, the original design utilized a heavy wall carbon steel shell with lead lining and two layers of acid bricks. The bricks acted as a wear resistant material and ensured a low surface temperature at the skin of the lead lining, whereas the lead lining acted as a corrosion barrier to protect the steel shell. These brick lined autoclaves were heavy, maintenance intensive and prone to catastrophic failure. A radical autoclave redesign was needed to reduce the high costs of manufacturing, installation and operation. Finite element modelling was used to optimize the design and various high alloy materials were investigated for the application. Based on extensive test work, the carbon steel shell was replaced with duplex SAF 2205 stainless steel in the new design. The use of this highly corrosion resistant material, eliminates the need for the lead and brick linings and reduces the wall thickness requirements substantially, resulting in an increase in the available volume for the same external shell dimensions. The vessel is welded in circular sections to form an elongated, impermeable, cylindrical body, with several agitator nozzles and compartments. The first new duplex stainless steel unit has been in continuous operation for more than 24 months and its performance has exceeded the highest expectations. The design was so successful that a patent has been registered. The major benefits of the new stainless steel design include increased throughput, improved performance, less downtime and a safer working environment. Lead has been eliminated and replaced with a more environmentally safe material, and the total lifespan of the vessel has been extended. In addition, the autoclave project has made significant developments in advancing the field of welding and optimizing the integrity of welding quality standards in South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>'Necessity the mother of invention' - a reflection on the requirements for successful innovation in the metallurgical industries</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0038-223X2009001100007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The complexities that exist in the nature of the basic feedstock to the metallurgical process call for a high degree of ingenuity from the extractive metallurgist in seeking the best possible treatment method for a particular ore. Drawing from personal experience the author presents four case studies that demonstrate the value of creative thinking in addressing the challenges typically encountered by the extraction metallurgist. It is concluded that creative expression most often occurs in response to a perceived strong need within an organization. By deliberately laying down meaningful challenges management can stimulate innovative thinking and achieve extraordinary results. <![CDATA[<b>Skorpion zinc solvent extraction: The upset conditions</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0038-223X2009001100008&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Skorpion Zinc is located 25 km north-west of the small settlement of Rosh Pinah in southern Namibia. Commissioned in early 2003, Skorpion Zinc became the first mine-to-metal operation to commercially apply a purely hydrometallurgical process route to exploit a zinc oxide orebody. The novel technology, known as The Modified ZincexTM Process patented by Tecnicas Reunidas, comprises sulphuric acid atmospheric leaching, zinc solvent extraction (SX) and electrowinning (EW) to produce London metal exchange (LME) Special high grade (SHG) zinc. Forming the core of the process, the SX step has thrived in its role as a barrier to impurities and also in the upgrading of the pregnant liquor solution (PLS), converting it into a loaded electrolyte (LE) sufficiently rich and pure for EW. Against this successful run, a number of challenges have, however, been encountered in SX due the emergence of upset conditions largely emanating from upstream processes. This paper outlines some of the major deviations that have beset the SX process in its first five years of continuous operation. Impurity excursions, temperature depressions, changes in phase continuity, excess aqueous entrainment, the effect of colloidal silica and the accumulation of rare earth elements on the organic phase will be discussed in detail.