Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X
The Skorpion Zinc Project demonstrated the viability of the production of zinc from non-sulphide (commonly called 'zincoxide') ores, using the leach/solvent extraction/electrowinning process route. The success of Skorpion raised the profile of a number of other zinc oxide deposits, considered to be similar. However, a study of three such deposits demonstrates that the application of whole-ore-leaching may be limited and that the concentration of zinc, or at least the separation from acidconsuming gangue minerals, prior to leaching is essential to the successful recovery of zinc from these deposits. The recovery of zinc is dependent on an understanding of the geology of the deposit, the mineralogical association of zinc minerals with gangue minerals (Boni, 2005) and limitations of mining practice. Flowsheet development and the associated metallurgical test work to derive an economically viable treatment route from two of these deposits are discussed. Key parameters affecting zinc recovery by gravity separation and flotation are presented, demonstrating that even minor differences in mineralogy have a profound impact on zinc recovery and reagent consumption. The study also deals with the determination of appropriate design parameters through metallurgical mapping of the dense media separation process.