Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Copper cyanide is a common component of cyanide-treatable precious metal ores. The copper concentration in production heaps can be predicted from laboratory column tests, but the exact correlation is not necessarily intuitive. Generally, heap leach operators like to keep copper concentrations in solution below 300-500 ppm and may note problems with gold recovery and cyanide consumption when copper concentrations exceed this amount. There are several methods of copper removal from cyanide solutions including ion exchange; direct electrowinning; acidification, volatilization, and recovery (AVR); and sulphide precipitation such as the sulphidization, acidification, recycling, and thickening (SART) process. SART involves acidification with addition of soluble sulphide, separation of the resulting copper sulphide precipitate, and addition of lime to re-establish alkalinity prior to returning the solution to the leaching process, recovering both copper and cyanide as valuable products. In principle SART is very simple. Yet some SART plants that have been built may have been unnecessarily complex. This paper explores the basics of SART and makes the case for a simple plant design as applied to the heap leaching circuit.
Keywords : SART; sulphidization; copper removal; copper cyanide; cyanide recovery; heap leaching..