minera cobre - Tecnium
Mineria Cobre 2 1 - Tecnium

Pumps for Copper Mines

Copper was one of the first metals to be used by humans in prehistory. From the nineteenth century, copper became a strategic metal, being the main raw material of cables and wiring

Copper is extracted and recovered from ore by hydrometallurgical or pyrometallurgical techniques.

Hydrometallurgical Techniques

Hydrometallurgy is based on the separation of metals from ore by chemical reactions in aqueous solutions. This process is based on the solubility of the oxidized metals in water solutions of acids (sulfuric, hydrochloric, nitric), alkali (sodium or ammonium hydroxide) or other agents (ammonia, cyanides, carbonates, ammonium salts). The ore is usually extracted in open-pit mines

For copper extraction sulfuric acid is used to dilute all metals in ore including copper. Copper is then removed from the solution in a process called solvent extraction (SX), followed by a electro-refining or electrowinning (EW) purification step,  resulting cathodes of high purity (99.99%).

Tecnium applications for this type of process are:

  • Sulfuric acid transfer to cells for the leaching stage
  • Transfer of Pregnant Leach Solution (PLS) from the cells to the SX stage.
  • Pumping of organic solution to SX baths.
  • Transfer of rich and poor electrolyte to SX stage.
  • SX spill collection pits
  • EW spill collection pits
  • Transfer of electrolytic sludge.

Pyrometallurgical Techniques

Pyrometallurgy is used in the sulfide minerals. These are extracted from underground mines. The copper sulfide ore at the mine has a low copper content so it must be concentrated at the mine, by flotation. Copper concentrate is taken up to the foundry where the copper is recovered, removing the sulfur and iron by oxidation. Sulfur in the furnace becomes SO2 gas, that is after oxidized and converted into sulfuric acid in a double absorption plant

After the oxidation stage and refining, resulting anodes are moved to the refinery (electrowinning process), which is the final stage of production of cathodes containing 99.9% copper.

It is possible to recupere the anodic sludge coming from copper electro-refining and get some precious metals (palladium, platinum and gold) and other noble metals like rhodium or ruthenium.

Tecnium applications for this type of process are:

  • Recirculation of H2SO4 solutions at weak acid recovery plant.
  • Weak acids plant spill collection pits
  • Strong acids plant spill collection pits
  • Acid recirculating on noble metals plant scrubbers
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