Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy]]> vol. 113 num. 5 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Ben Alberts</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>The application of activated carbon for the adsorption and elution of platinum group metals from dilute cyanide leach solutions</b>]]> The research presented in this paper investigated the practical aspects of the recovery of platinum group metals (PGMs) from a dilute cyanide leach solution containing base metals, in a manner similar to that used for gold extraction in a typical CIP process, and focuses on both the adsorption and elution stages. The carrier-phase extraction of precious metals using activated carbon offers significant advantages over other processes in terms of simplicity, the high pre-concentration factor, rapid phase separation, and relatively low capital and operating costs. As a sorbent, activated carbon is still by far the most important material because of its large surface area, high adsorption capacity, porous structure, negligible environmental toxicity, low cost, and high purity standards. Adsorption tests were conducted on a pregnant alkaline leach solution (0.15 ppm Pt, 0.38 ppm Pd, 0.1 ppm Au) resulting from cyanide extraction performed in column leach tests. The initial adsorption rates of Pt, Pd, and Au were very fast and recoveries of these three metals were approximately 90 per cent after 2 hours, and 100 per cent for Pt, 97.4 per cent for Pd, and 99.9 per cent for Au after 72 hours. The parameters that influence the extraction of PGMs and Au were examined to assess their relative importance during the adsorption process in order to provide the basis for process optimization. The concentration of thiocyanate was not identified as significant factor for PGMs adsorption, while Ni concentration was the most significant extraction process parameter. Base metal cyanide complexes adsorb and compete with the PGM complexes for sites on activated carbon, and while copper adsorption can be minimized by adjusting the residence time, Ni adsorbs at approximately the same rate as the PGMs, influencing the loading capacity and adsorption kinetics of the PGMs. The feasibility of eluting platinum and palladium cyanide complexes from activated carbon using an analogue of the AARL process was investigated. Platinum and palladium elute from activated carbon almost to completion in 4 to 5 bed volumes at 80°C, while the elution of gold at this temperature is slow, with a significant amount of gold still to be eluted after 16 bed volumes. The equilibrium loading of gold is exothermic in nature (Fleming and Nicol, 1984) which will result in an increase in gold elution kinetics with an increase in temperature at similar pre-treatment conditions. A similar result was found for the elution of Pt and Pd. Cyanide pre-treatment was found to have a significant influence on PGM elution. Higher cyanide concentration in the pre-treatment step results in more efficient elution up to a point, and results suggest the possibility of an optimum cyanide concentration, beyond which elution efficiency starts decreasing due to increased ionic strength. <![CDATA[<b>The recovery of copper from a pregnant sulphuric acid bioleach solution with developmental resin Dow XUS43605</b>]]> This paper focuses on the application of ion exchange technology for the recovery of copper from a leach solution originating from a heap bioleach in which base metals are leached from a low-grade ore that bears platinum group metals. Screening tests indicated that Dow XUS43605 has high selectivity for copper over the other metals in the solution, namely nickel, iron, cobalt, zinc, manganese, and aluminium. Batch adsorption kinetic experiments showed that copper adsorption equilibrium is attained at a fast rate. The kinetics of adsorption increased as the temperature was increased from 25°C to 60°C due to the decrease in solution viscosity and the subsequent improved intra-particle mass diffusion. Single-component Langmuir and Freundlich isotherm models were fitted to the batch copper adsorption equilibrium data, and a maximum copper capacity of 26 g/ℓ was observed for Dow XUS43605. The effects of flow rate, temperature, pH, and initial metal concentration on the dynamic recovery of copper were investigated in fixed-bed columns, and it was determined that temperature and flow rate had the most significant impacts on the loading of copper on the resin at copper breakthrough. A 36% increase in copper loading at breakthrough was observed when the temperature was increased from 25°C to 60°C. Finally, it was determined that a split elution is possible by using different concentrations of H2SO4 to first elute co-loaded nickel from the resin, followed by the elution of copper. <![CDATA[<b>Comparative study of the use of HPGR and conventional wet and dry grinding methods on the flotation of base metal sulphides and PGMs</b>]]> The effect of using conventional crushing and HPGR in combination with dry or wet milling was investigated using a base metal sulphide (sphalerite), and a PGM (platinum group minerals) ore in order to determine how these different processes affect the flotation performance. In the case of sphalerite, irrespective of the crushing procedure (HPGR or conventional), dry milling resulted in the highest grades and recoveries of zinc. Conversely, in the case of PGMs, a similar treatment produced the poorest results. The results were investigated further by comparing the relative effects of factors such as percentage liberation, particle size, and surface properties of the samples produced by the different milling procedures as well as the concentrates and tailings obtained from the flotation tests. <![CDATA[<b>Selenium impurity in sodium sulphate decahydrate formed by eutectic freeze crystallization of industrial waste brine</b>]]> Eutectic freeze crystallization (EFC) is a novel technique for the recovery of pure salt and pure water from hypersaline waste brines. It is therefore a promising technology for the treatment of industrial waste waters. The impurities caused by crystallizing salt out of multi-component brines by EFC have not yet been investigated, however. To these ends, the selenium impurity found in sodium sulphate, produced from the waste brine of a platinum operation, was investigated. It was believed that the similarity between sulphate and selenate ions allowed isomorphous substitution of selenate ions into the sodium sulphate crystals, which was the likely cause of impurity uptake. It was found that the presence of sodium chloride in the industrial brine promotes the uptake of selenium, while ionic strength of the brine and mass deposition rate of sodium sulphate did not have a significant effect on the selenium uptake. Isomorphous substitution is predicted to be the most significant mechanism by which all impurities will be taken up when applying EFC to other industrial waste brines. <![CDATA[<b>Evaluation of processing options for the treatment of zinc sulphide concentrates at Skorpion Zinc</b>]]> Skorpion Zinc, an integrated zinc mine and refinery located in the south of Namibia, has a production capacity of 150 000 t/a of special high grade (SHG) zinc. The Skorpion zinc oxide resource will be depleted by 2017. Extensive exploration drilling for additional zinc oxides was conducted without success. With the abundant availability of zinc sulphide concentrates regionally (Black Mountain and Gamsberg in the Northern Cape or Rosh Pinah Zinc and new deposits in the Rosh Pinah region) the life of the operation can be extended by processing of zinc sulphide concentrates. The leach kinetics of zinc sulphides is vastly slower than for oxides, preventing the processing of zinc sulphides in the existing process under current conditions, and Skorpion Zinc faces the challenge to identify a suitable zinc sulphide treatment process that can be integrated with the existing plant. Various zinc sulphide processing options were identified through an extensive literature search and non-viable options were eliminated. Mass and energy balances were established for potential options and an economic evaluation (including capital and operating cost estimation) was conducted to identify a suitable process. It is concluded that ferric leaching of sphalerite in a sulphate medium under atmospheric or pressure leach conditions are suitable processes for Skorpion Zinc. These processes present advantages over all other zinc processing options when elemental sulphur is preferred as the final deportment for sulphide sulphur. Both these processes can be integrated into the existing refinery and will be able to process concentrates with a wide composition range. <![CDATA[<b>Effect of dissolved precipitating ions on the settling characteristics of copper sulphide</b>]]> Surface properties of metal sulphides have a great significance in various areas of engineering and science, such as acid mine drainage, contaminant sorption, and metal separation. In various attempts at producing metal sulphide particles from synthetic solutions, prodigious quantities of nuclei that grow only to colloidal dimensions have been frequently reported. This copious nucleation is promoted by the high levels of supersaturation that characterize most precipitation reactions. Colloidal particle formation in precipitation-based separation processes results in sub-optimal solid-liquid separation, which is alleviated by the production of more highly crystalline particles or agglomerates. The current work approaches this challenge from an electrochemistry perspective, by measuring surface charge potential of precipitant particles during metal sulphide precipitation with respect to the concentration of metal sulphide lattice ions in solution. Electrophoresis was used to measure the metal sulphide particle zeta potential and the settling properties were obtained by performing settleability measurements using an Imhoff settling cone. A suspension of copper sulphide particles was precipitated from synthetic solutions of copper and sulphide ions at equimolar concentrations. Immediately after precipitation the copper sulphide particles had a zeta potential of -50 mV and a settleability of about 7 mℓ.ℓ-i. With the addition of copper ions the settleability increased by a factor of nearly three times and the zeta potential also increased to a maximum of -40 mV. A decrease in zeta potential to a minimum of -60 mV was observed after the addition of sulphide ions and this was associated with a settleability of 0 mℓ.ℓ-i.