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Source: Outotec


Solution purification

and casting



Leach Gold



Cu wire rod


Chlor-alkali electrolysis

FIGURE 2. Outotecs HydroCopper process has a modular flowsheet that can be

tailored to different kinds of copper concentrates

impurities, such as arsenic and mercury, which can be harmful in pyrometallurgical processes. According
to Outotec, the process has been designed to meet the strictest directives
for emissions.
Alternative technologies, which are
said to be especially effective on high
carbonate ores, have been developed
by MetaLeach Ltd. (London, U.K.;, a wholly owned
subsidiary of Alexander Mining plc.
The company owns the intellectual
property to two ambient temperature, ambient pressure, hydrometallurgical technologies, AmmLeach and
The AmmLeach process utilizes ammonia-based chemistry for the extraction of base metals, especially copper,
nickel, zinc and cobalt from ore deposits and concentrates.
The primary difference between
AmmLeach and acid leaching is that
the leaching is conducted in a moderately alkaline solution, which allows
using AmmLeach on high carbonate
ores where acid consumption would
be prohibitive. Also, in the AmmLeach
process, undesirable metals and other
impurities are either insoluble or significantly suppressed, with considerable capital and operating cost savings, says the company.
The process has an extremely high
selectivity for the target metal over
iron and manganese, which are insoluble under AmmLeach conditions.
The company said it has developed
a new process for the solvent extraction of zinc from ammoniacal solutions. It said testing has shown that
zinc can be efficiently extracted using
commercially available reagents in a
single stage and stripped with acid solutions, with greater selectivity than
has previously been reported.

Targets for the AmmLeach process

include nickel laterite ores, gold/copper oxides and silver/zinc oxides, and
molybdenum oxides.
Alexander Minings CEO, Martin
Rosser, says the company is conducting
a demonstration project for the extraction of copper in the Argentine northwestern province of Salta. The company will now look at the next stage of
commercialization of the process.
The company is also marketing its
Hyperleach process, which is a chlorine based process that does not require Cl2 gas to operate. The oxidant
can be generated on-site via industry
standard chlor-alkali technology. The
process operates at ambient temperature and pressure and is suitable for
heap leaching as well as tank leaching. It leaches base metal sulfides including chalcopyrite, bornite, chalcocite, millerite, and enargite.
The MetaLeach processes are still
in the demonstration stage, but a copper and nickel extraction process, by
CESL Ltd. (Richmond, B.C., Canada;, part of the Technology
Division of Teck Resources Co. (Vancouver, B.C.), is already in operation.
The first commercial hydrometallurgical facility using CESL technology is now operating in the Carajs
region of Brazil (Figures 3 and 4). It
is a 10,000 metric ton (m.t.) per year
copper plant built by Vale S.A. (Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil).
The CESL copper process consists
of four main steps: copper mineral
oxidation, copper leaching from the
oxidation residue, solvent extraction
to purify the copper leach liquor, and
electrowinning to recover copper in a
commercial product form.
The process uses existing technologies but combines them in a novel way.
It involves oxidation of sulfide concen-

 process technologies
which are free of interfaces:
stocking mixing filling
 complete turnkey plants
from the
engineering delivery


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Fax: +49 2522 30-403
M 957-E4
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