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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X

J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.109 n.5 Johannesburg May. 2009




Keynote address: Hydrometallurgical process development for complex ores and concentrates



D. Dreisinger

University of British Columbia, Department of Materials Engineering, Canada




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.



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1. DREISINGER, D., MURRAY, W., BAXTER, K., HOLMES, M., JACOBS, H., and MOLNAR R. The metallurgical development of the El Boleo copper-cobaltzinc project. Proceedings of ALTA Copper 2005, Perth, ALTA Metallurgical Services, Melbourne, Australia, 2005.         [ Links ]

2. CHENG, C.Y. AND URBANI, M.D. Solvent extraction process for separation cobalt and/or manganese from impurities in leach solutions. Patent Publication No. WO 2005/073415 A1.         [ Links ]

3. FERRON, C.J., FLEMING, C.A., O'KANE, P.T., and DREISINGER, D. Pilot plant demonstration of the PLATSOL process for the treatment of the NorthMet copper-nickel-PGM deposit, Mining Engineering. Littleton, CO, United States, 2002, vol. 54, no. 12, pp. 33-39.         [ Links ]

4. MARSDEN, J.O., BREWER, R.E., and HAZEN, N. Copper Concentrate Leaching Developments by Phelps Dodge Corporation, Hydrometallurgy 2003, C.A. Young, A.M. Alfantazi, C.G. Anderson, D.B. Dreisinger, B. Harris and A. James (eds.), TMS, Warrendale, USA, 2003, pp. 1429-1446.         [ Links ]

5. BREWER, R.E. Copper Concentrate Pressure Leaching - Plant Scale-Up from Continuous Laboratory Testing, Minerals and Metallurgical Processing, November, 2004, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 202-208.         [ Links ]

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