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Hydrometallurgical upgrading of a tetrahedrite-rich copper concentrate
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Sustainable Process Engineering.
2010 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Removal of impurity elements in copper metallurgy is one of the major problems encountered today since pure copper ore reserves are becoming exhausted and the resources of unexploited ores often contain relatively high amounts of antimony, arsenic, mercury and bismuth, which need to be eliminated. The present work aims at pre-treating a tetrahedrite rich complex copper sulphide concentrate by selective dissolution of the impurities, therefore, upgrading it for pyrometallurgical processing. Characterisation of the complex concentrate was performed and the result shows that antimony and part of arsenic were present as tetrahedrite and bournonite. Dissolution kinetics of tetrahedrite in aqueous alkaline sodium sulphide solutions was investigated. It was found that the rate of dissolving tetrahedrite by the lixiviant increases with increase in reaction temperature, sodium sulphide concentration, sodium hydroxide concentration, and with decrease in mineral particle size. The kinetic study indicates that the rate of leaching tetrahedrite in the lixiviant under the selected conditions is chemically controlled through the particle surface reaction. The activation energies of the process were estimated as 81 kJ/mol and 75 kJ/mol, respectively, for antimony and arsenic dissolution from tetrahedrite. The estimated activation energies were within the range reported for a chemically controlled reaction process. Besides, the alkaline sulphide lixiviant proves selective and effective to dissolve these impurity elements from the concentrate with good recoveries. Further investigations on the factors influencing the leaching efficiency of the lixiviant were studied. Analysis of the leach residue indicates that copper content of the tetrahedrite has transformed into copper sulphides with the average chemical formula Cu1.64S. The grade and economic value of the concentrate were improved greatly after sulphide treatment, and therefore, suitable as a feedstock for smelting. The impurities in the concentrate were found to have reduced to a level satisfactory for smelting operation.Furthermore, modelling and optimisation of alkaline sulphide leaching of a complex copper concentrate containing 1.69% Sb and 0.14% Sn were conducted. Response surface methodology, in combination with central composite face-centred design (RSM-CCF), was used to optimise the operating parameters. The leaching temperature, sulphide ion concentration and solid concentration were chosen as the variables, and the response parameters were antimony and tin recoveries, and the time required to achieve 90% Sb dissolution. It was seen that the leaching process was strongly dependent on the reaction temperature as well as the sulphide ion concentration without any significant dependence on the solid concentration. Additionally, a mathematical model was constructed to characterise the leaching behaviour within the experimental range studied. The results from the model allow identification of the most favourable leaching conditions. The model was validated experimentally, and the results show that the model is reliable and accurate in predicting the leaching process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2010. , 45 p.
Licentiate thesis / Luleå University of Technology, ISSN 1402-1757
Research subject
Process Metallurgy
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-25657Local ID: a6d090e0-e366-11df-8b36-000ea68e967bISBN: 978-91-7439-163-3OAI: diva2:998811
Godkänd; 2010; 20101029 (samawe); LICENTIATSEMINARIUM Ämnesområde: Processmetallurgi/Process Metallurgy Examinator: Professor Åke Sandström, Luleå tekniska universitet Diskutant: PhD Senior Project Manager Gouzhu Ye, Swerea MEFOS AB, Luleå Tid: Fredag den 3 december 2010 kl 10.00 Plats: F531 Bergrummet, Luleå tekniska universitetAvailable from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30Bibliographically approved

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