Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X
DREISINGER, D.. Keynote address: Hydrometallurgical process development for complex ores and concentrates. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2009, vol.109, n.5, pp.253-271. ISSN 2411-9717.
Hydrometallurgical processing of complex ores and concentrates is becoming increasingly important as the mining and metallurgical industry seeks to exploit mineral deposits that are difficult to treat using conventional mineral processing and pyrometallurgical technologies. Mineral processing is often challenged by the difficulty or inability to separate valuable minerals into marketable concentrates. Hydrometallurgical processing, using selective leaching technology, can often 'chemically beneficiate' such difficult deposits. Pyrometallurgical treatment of base metal concentrates is capital intensive and subject to ever more stringent environmental control. Hydrometallurgical processing is generally lower in capital cost for an equivalent metal production rate and avoids the gas and dust issues associated with pyrometallurgical processing. The possibility of by-product recovery may also increase with hydrometallurgical treatment. Two examples of new technology or flowsheet development for treatment of complex ores and concentrates are used as illustration. These include the El Boleo process of Baja Mining for recovery of copper, cobalt, zinc and anganese from a complex clayey ore and the PLATSOL process for recovery of copper, nickel, cobalt, platinum, palladium and gold from a bulk sulphide concentrate.