ISSN: 1003-6326
CN: 43-1239/TG

Vol. 14    No. 3    June 2004

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Copper hydrometallurgy—current status, preliminary economics,
future direction and positioning versus smelting
J. Peacey1, GUO Xian-jian1, E. Robles2
(1. Hatch Associates Ltd., 2800 Speakman Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L5K 2R7, Canada;
2. Hatch Ingenierosy Consultores Ltda., San Sebastian 2839, Piso 9,
Las Condes, Santiago 6760226, Chile
Abstract: The heap leaching of oxide copper ores with copper cathode recovery by solvent extraction and electro-winning is now well established as a low-cost method of copper recovery. This technology has recently been applied successfully to mixed oxide and chalcocite ores, notably in Chile at Cerro Colorado, Quebrada Blanca and Zaldivar. Currently,  there are significant development efforts underway to try to extend heap leaching to chalcopyrite ores. The success of heap leaching/ SX/EW has also led to a revival in the development of hydrometallurgical processes to recover copper from chalcopyrite andother copper concentrates. The current status of copper hydrometallurgy is reviewed and the most commercially attractive
potential applications are explored. The advantages and disadvantages of the hydrometallurgical treatment of chalcopyrite concentrates and its preliminary economics are compared with those for the current best practices in copper smelting and refining.
Key words: copper hydrometallurgy; , heap leaching/SX/EW; copper oxide ore; copper sulfide ore
Superintended by The China Association for Science and Technology (CAST)
Sponsored by The Nonferrous Metals Society of China (NFSOC)
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