Tag Archives: solvent extraction

Metso Outotec signs another VSF SX-EW order in North America

Metso Outotec says it has signed an agreement worth some €50 million ($53 million) for the supply of copper solvent extraction and electrowinning technology to North America.

The company’s scope of delivery includes basic engineering, a technology package for the VSF® solvent extraction and electrowinning plants, as well as advisory services for mechanical installation and commissioning, start-up, and spare parts.

Metso Outotec says its Vertical Smooth Flow (VSF) plants offer lower lifetime costs, significantly shorter lead times and sustainable life-cycle technology built on decades of experience in solvent extraction.

Mikko Rantaharju, Vice President, Hydrometallurgy, at Metso Outotec, said: “We are looking forward to working on this project, which will be an important reference for Metso Outotec in North America’s growing copper market.”

Other recent bookings for Metso Outotec’s VSF SX-EW technology include one from First Cobalt (now Electra Battery Materials) and Taseko Mines.

Asiamet engages BGRIMM for SX-EW plant engineering and procurement work at BKM

Asiamet Resources Limited says it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with BGRIMM Technology Group (BGRIMM) in relation to the engineering and procurement of the solvent extraction and electrowinning (SX-EW) plant for the BKM copper project processing facility in Indonesia.

BGRIMM is a leading Chinese engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) group providing services to the mining industry worldwide.

The MoU will see the two companies, alongside Asiamet’s consulting engineer, NewPro Consulting & Engineering Services Pty Ltd, work on the detailed design information for all equipment packages that BGRIMM has provided cost estimates for as part of the current BKM copper project feasibility study update.

BGRIMM will also complete a detailed cost estimate for an EPC Technical Supervision scope of work for the project’s SX-EW processing plant, which will be used in the FS update capital cost estimate. Upon successful completion of this update and a positive final investment decision by the Asiamet Board, the company will engage with BGRIMM on the provision of a complete engineering and procurement service contract for the SX-EW plant. This will include the supply of all necessary equipment for the SX-EW plant and coordination with suppliers of materials from within Indonesia.

Asiamet will also work with BGRIMM to develop the technical construction supervision requirements for the SX-EW plant when moving into the execution phase as well as commissioning services as required.

The SX-EW plant is a critical component of the BKM processing facility as it delivers the processes of metal purification and copper metal production, Asiamet said. It can be considered a discrete facility with well-defined battery limits, therefore is suitable for delivering as an engineering and procurement package.

Darryn McClelland, Asiamet CEO, added: “BGRIMM have already assisted our engineering consultants NewPro with various equipment pricing used in the FS update capital expenditure estimate as well as costs for executing the engineering and procurement services necessary for delivery of the SX-EW plant.

“Capital cost is a critical component of the feasibility of the BKM copper project and working with BGRIMM is one of a number of opportunities we have taken to help control cost and mitigate the inflationary backdrop seen in 2022. BGRIMM have a strong track record of delivering cost effective engineering and designs for SX-EW plants of the size we are proposing for the BKM copper project and we are very keen to tap into this experience. Asiamet looks forward to developing a strong working relationship with BGRIMM through involvement in the development of the BKM copper project, along with future development opportunities that are likely to arise from the broader KSK Contract of Work.

“Final discrete elements for the delivery of the updated Feasibility Study are nearing completion and we look forward to delivering on this in the near term and critically presenting a project with overall robust economics and attractive cashflow generation.”

A 2022 feasibility study on BKM outlined a maximum 4.5 Mt/y treatment rate from a nine-year heap leach SX-EW operation.

Metso Outotec to deliver VSF X technology to Kyzyl Aray Copper project

Metso Outotec says it has signed an agreement with Kyzyl Aray Copper, a subsidiary of Caravan Resources, for the supply of copper solvent extraction and electrowinning technology for a plant to be built in the Karagandy region of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The order of approximately €35 million ($37 million) covers a technology package delivery that includes the modular VSF®X solvent extraction plant and the main process equipment for the electrowinning plant.

Mikko Rantaharju, Vice President, Hydrometallurgy, at Metso Outotec, said: “We are looking forward to working with Kyzyl Aray Copper on this project. The energy-efficient VSF X solvent extraction plant, which is part of our Planet Positive product range, reduces emissions and is safe to operate.

“The Kyzyl Aray Copper project will become an important new reference for Metso Outotec in the growing Kazakhstan copper market as a supplier of a complete production plant that uses solvent extraction and electrowinning technology for copper recovery.”

Metso Outotec says its Vertical Smooth Flow (VSF) plants offer lower lifetime costs, significantly shorter lead times and sustainable life-cycle technology built on decades of experience in solvent extraction.

Orica’s Chemicals business eyes new complementary opportunities

Orica’s Investor Day, taking place last week, highlighted potential growth areas in one of the company’s less-publicised ‘verticals’, its Chemicals business.

Mining, Quarry & Construction and Digital solutions often steal the headlines in quarterly updates, but Adam Hall, Group Executive & President of Asia & Chemicals, showed there is plenty going on within the company’s fourth vertical.

This business, which covers the fields of ore processing, chemical stabilisation and recovery & treatment, strengthens Orica’s presence across the mining value chain, having a strong alignment with its global footprint and understanding of customer needs, the company says. It also acts as a complementary component of Orica’s “new solutions offerings”.

Orica’s current exposure is to leaching agents and emulsifiers, with cyanide making up its biggest product today.

As one of the largest producers of sodium cyanide for mining, Orica delivers the leaching agent in briquette form in circa-1 tonne boxes that are easily containerised, or within an Orica-designed Sparge isotainer system, or in liquid form via purpose-built iso tanks suitable for safe road or rail transport around the world.

It relies on the Yarwun, Gladstone Cyanide Manufacturing Facility in Queensland for this supply, which has an annual capacity of 95,000 t/y and is compliant with ISO9002 and the International Cyanide Management Code. This facility is complemented by the company’s sodium cyanide transfer stations in Peru, Ghana and Malaysia.

Hall was positive about potential growth opportunities in the cyanide space, explaining demand for cyanide was expected to outpace the predicted growth in gold ore treated to 2026 as the complexities involved with treating orebodies continued to increase.

He said the Yarwun facility had great brownfield growth opportunities around the site, with the company evaluating potential expansions in the region of “high single digit” or “low double digit” percentages.

Hall was equally positive about cyanide retaining its presence in the gold leaching process, saying that, while substitution questions continued to come up, the realities associated with such a transition meant it was infrequently feasible.

“There is one major mine that has switched away from using cyanide into a different reagent,” he said. “That cost them north of $100 million, and our understanding is they would not necessarily do it again. Also, that specific mine has a certain lithography that lent itself to using that reagent.”

Hall said Orica’s emulsifiers – which allow it to differentiate its explosives products through maintaining the stability of the mixture – represented “a small but mighty part” of the company’s product suite. He saw potential growth opportunities for emulsifiers, which he said contained the “secret sauce for emulsification”.

Outside of these two Orica mainstays, Hall highlighted the potential for Orica to play in both flotation and solvent extraction markets as part of growth opportunities that added up to A$23 billion ($16 billion).

In flotation, collectors, frothers and flocculants are integral to optimising the process. The same can be said for solvent extractants in the SX space.

“We see all of these as potentially interesting for Orica,” Hall said. “These are all big fields…but each of them has something we could potentially partner or bring to our clients, and something we will be looking to do over the next five years or so.”

Partnerships could potentially see Orica team up with big chemical players that have a by-product or comparatively small value stream coming out of an integrated facility where Orica could bring its “deep understanding of what the miners need and how we can deliver against that using the products that are produced”, he explained.

This could see Orica act as an agent, an offtaker, or purchaser of the by-product production unit.

As with all other Orica verticals, the Chemicals business will be looking at any potential bolt-on to the emulsifier and cyanide offering as a way to influence more of the value chain, ensuring changes made up- or down-stream provide value throughout the full flowsheet.

Metso Outotec adds to Planet Positive range with Activated Carbon filter for battery metals

Metso Outotec is launching the Activated Carbon (AC) filter for, it says, efficient recovery and recycling of valuable battery chemicals.

The energy- and water-efficient AC filter responds to the market’s increasing demand for advanced and sustainable battery metals processing technologies and is part of Metso Outotec’s Planet Positive portfolio, it said.

Planet Positive is Metso Outotec’s all-encompassing approach to sustainability. It covers the environmental, social and financial aspects of sustainability, focusing on the positive impact on the environment and people through further growing its sustainable offering through products that are demonstrably more energy or water efficient than the market standard, or help customers achieve other priorities such as circularity and safety, as well as services that help customers improve their productivity.

Mika Vuorikari, Director of Industrial Filtration at Metso Outotec, said: “This launch will strengthen our capability to serve a large variety of industries and processes. Together with the Dual Media (DM) filter, Metso Outotec now has a complete filtration portfolio for solvent extraction (SX), electrowinning and crystallisation processes. We have strong know-how from the hydrometallurgical industry with more than 50 successful filtration solutions references from SX and crystallisation processes globally.”

The modular AC filtration technology is designed for smaller side streams of copper and other metal-loaded aqueous streams. It is specifically suited for efficient organics removal before the electrowinning and crystallisation processes. The AC filter uses the already proven design and operation philosophy of the Metso Outotec DM filter product family and is suitable for both greenfield and brownfield installations, the company added.

Benefits of the AC filter outlined by Metso Outotec include:

  • Increased end-product yield and quality;
  • Increased recovery and recycling of valuable process chemicals;
  • Cost-effective and modular design;
  • Low energy consumption, due to low pumping pressure;
  • Minimised water consumption with optimised back washing; and
  • Safe to use and operate, due to sealed pressure vessel and piping.

Metso Outotec to supply VSFX tech for Li-Cycle battery recycling plant

Metso Outotec says it has signed an agreement with Li-Cycle North America Hub Inc for the supply of manganese, cobalt, and nickel solvent extraction technology for a battery recycling plant to be built in Rochester, New York in the US.

The contract value, which is not disclosed, has been booked in the Metals December quarter 2021 orders received.

The Metso Outotec delivery includes three modular VSF®X solvent extraction plants and related Dual Media Filters, and basic engineering.

Jari Ålgars, President of the Metals business area at Metso Outotec, said: “We are looking forward to working with Li-Cycle on this battery recycling project. The energy-efficient, modular VSFX solvent extraction plant, which is part of our Planet Positive product range, reduces emissions and is safe to operate. The Li-Cycle project will be an important new reference for Metso Outotec in the battery recycling business.”

First Cobalt to use Metso Outotec modular solvent extraction tech at refinery

First Cobalt Corp has awarded a contract to Metso Outotec for the design and manufacturing of solvent extraction cells as well as technical support for the layout of a new solvent extraction plant and its process control at First Cobalt’s refinery in Ontario, Canada.

The company says it received several tenders from global vendors and Metso Outotec was selected based on competitive pricing and its “technically superior” bid.

The contracted solution involves the latest advancements in solvent extraction in terms of modular design, process control and ease of installation and start up, First Cobalt says. The installation time of the modular mixer-settlers is expected to be 30% less than the conventional solvent extraction mixer-settlers used at other projects. In addition to the reduction in site install time, the footprint needed for the selected plant equipment is less than conventional solvent extraction equipment, according to the company. Metso Outotec confirmed that the solution to be supplied comes under its VSF®X solvent extraction plant, which is part of its Planet Positive product range.

Phase 1 deployment of First Cobalt’s three-phase approach to market entry, slated for the December quarter of 2022, will focus on processing cobalt hydroxide to produce a high-quality, sustainable and traceable battery-grade cobalt sulphate. Refinery studies have previously estimated it could produce 25,000 t/y of battery-grade cobalt sulphate from third-party feed.

In January 2021, the company secured long-term cobalt hydroxide feed arrangements with Glencore AG and IXM SA, a subsidiary of CMOC, to provide a total of 4,500 t/y of contained cobalt to the First Cobalt Refinery commencing in the December quarter of 2022. In March 2021, the company further de-risked the project by signing a flexible, long-term, offtake agreement with Stratton Metal Resources Ltd for the sale of future cobalt sulphate production, with quantities determined by First Cobalt.

Once operational, First Cobalt’s Refinery will be North America’s only producer of cobalt sulphate for the electric vehicle market, the company claims.

Trent Mell, President & CEO of First Cobalt, says: “We are happy to be moving forward with Metso Outotec, an industry-leading business partner. Their expertise and ability to deliver quality projects significantly de-risks our own. We move one step closer to becoming North America’s only provider of cobalt sulphate and we do not intend to stop there. Plans for our Canadian Battery Materials Park also include battery recycling, nickel sulphate production and a partnership with a battery precursor manufacturer.”

Northern Minerals lays the groundwork for Steinert XRT ore sorter installation

Northern Minerals is set to commission a Steinert sensor-based ore sorter for use at its Browns Range rare earth pilot plant, in northern Western Australia, after gaining the relevant regulatory approvals for installation of the machine.

The ore sorting equipment concentrates ore prior to the beneficiation circuit by selecting ore and rejecting waste based on X-ray Transmission. This has the potential to double the feed grade and reduce production costs, according to the company.

Both the Western Australian Office of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation have now cleared the installation and commissioning, with construction commenced on the structural and mechanical equipment (pictured). Commissioning is scheduled for mid-2021.

The total capital investment for the procurement, installation and commissioning of the ore sorter is budgeted at A$5.9 million ($4.3 million), Northern Minerals said.

Previous trials of ore sorting technology at Browns Range, announced in October 2018, identified the potential to double the mill feed grade. This would lead to an increased production rate of heavy rare earth carbonate and a potential lowering of overall operating costs.

Once the ore sorting system is commissioned, Northern Minerals plans to run additional test work at pilot plant scale on all ore types to establish baseline data on feed grade improvements, it said. This work will also help evaluate material flow-through benefits of ore sorting on overall processing efficiencies, feeding into any future commercial, large-scale project feasibility studies at Browns Range.

Northern Minerals says it is also evaluating the economics of further downstream processing options for Browns Range ore.

To date, Browns Range has produced a mixed heavy rare earth carbonate for small-scale export to offtake partners. The options being assessed would take a further step along the supply chain to produce separated heavy rare earth oxides.

The company announced in August 2019 it had commenced a scoping study with US-based K-Technologies Inc to investigate a separation technology on intermediate mixed rare earths materials produced at Browns Range. K-Tech’s technology is focused on continuous ion exchange, continuous ion-chromatography and related advanced separation methodologies.

The study continues to progress well, with positive test results being achieved at K-Tech’s facilities in Florida albeit slower than planned because of constraints associated with COVID-19, Northern Minerals said. However, the company expects to see separated dysprosium and terbium oxides from the study before the end of this year.

Separately to collaborating with K-Tech, Northern Minerals is pursuing studies into traditional solvent extraction to produce oxides from the mixed heavy rare earth material produced at Browns Range.

Northern Minerals CEO, Mark Tory, said: “With approvals in place for the ore sorter and installation now under way, we will be in a strong position to thoroughly evaluate the flow-through benefits of that technology at a pilot plant scale.

“The results will provide a valuable input into future feasibility studies to assess the commercial viability of a large-scale heavy rare earths mining and processing operation at Browns Range.

“In addition to our investment in ore sorting to improve the mill feed grade, we are also committed to assessing opportunities to further unlock value at Browns Range through downstream processing to oxide products, which opens up a wider field of offtake and future project financing opportunities.”

Northern Minerals started producing rare earth carbonate through the Browns Range pilot plant in October 2018 as part of a three-year pilot assessment of economic and temporarily technical feasibility of a larger scale development at Browns Range.

Protea Mining Chemicals develops world first copper-cobalt processing solution

Diversified chemicals group, Omnia Holdings, reports its Protea Mining Chemicals division has become the first in its field – globally – to develop a solution that helps copper and cobalt mines reduce product contamination (improving metal purity levels) and maximise throughput in the solvent extraction (SX) process.

This pioneering solution took six years to develop and was carried out in partnership with chemicals manufacturers and copper and cobalt mining customers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Omnia said.

“Finding safer, more efficient ways to extract valuable resources and enhance profitability continues to be a priority in the mining sector – which has been particularly constrained by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company said.

“This discovery will extend the life of copper and cobalt mines and assist profitability. Protea Mining Chemicals is working closely with other mines to replicate this success in other regions.”

Michael Smith, Managing Director at Protea Mining Chemicals (pictured), said: “Over the past few decades, many unsuccessful attempts have been made by mining houses, global chemical manufacturers, as well as SX equipment and process engineers to address this issue of contamination. Needless to say, this has been a very challenging journey and we are delighted by what we have been able to achieve.”

The news comes hot on the heels of Omnia’s BME breaking the South African record for the largest electronic detonator blast.

Ucore partners with Kingston Process Metallurgy to demo RapidSX technology

Ucore Rare Metals’ wholly-owned subsidiary, Innovation Metals Corp (IMC), has executed a binding agreement with Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc (KPM) that will see Kingston become IMC’s long-term laboratory partner for the commercialisation of the RapidSX™ technology.

The news follows a strategic update from earlier in the month when Ucore said it was evaluating various location opportunities for a “commercialisation-phase” facility where RapidSX was intended eventually to operate at demonstration scale, using a number of customers’ feedstocks.

IMC’s proprietary RapidSX technology is being developed for the cost-effective, bulk/commercial separation and purification of rare-earth elements (REEs) – including both heavy REE (HREEs) and light REEs (LREEs) – for the production of REE oxides (REOs), in addition to other critical metals, such as lithium, nickel and cobalt for lithium-ion battery materials.

IMC developed the RapidSX separation technology with the assistance of $1.8 million in funding from the United States Department of Defense, resulting in the production of commercial-grade, separated REOs at the pilot scale.

“The technology combines the time-proven chemistry of conventional solvent extraction (SX) with a new column-based platform, which significantly reduces time to completion and plant footprint, as well as potentially lowering capital and operating costs,” the company said. “SX is the international REE industry’s standard commercial separation technology and is currently used by 100% of all REE producers worldwide for bulk commercial separation of both HREEs and LREEs.”

The latest agreement has seen IMC secure the premises for the RapidSX Commercialisation and Development Facility (CDF) in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. This will see the RapidSX CDF occupy half (5,000 sq.ft (465 sq.m)) of the KPM pilot facility.

With more than 40 employees, KPM specialises in commercial process development and optimisation, with techno-economic and process modelling in parallel. It has the demonstrated expertise, multidisciplinary skills, and fundamental knowledge to develop concepts and solve unique challenges for its clients, Ucore said.

IMC CEO and Ucore CTO and Director, Dr Gareth Hatch, said: “IMC is thrilled to partner with KPM in the commercialisation of RapidSX. KPM has an accomplished track record of metallurgical process development and commercialisation, with a particular emphasis on clearly establishing the techno-economic feasibility of processes and appropriate unit-operation selection early on in the commercialisation process.”

Pat Ryan, Chairman and Interim CEO of Ucore, said: “The development of an individual REE separation and purification plant is Ucore’s targeted first commercial development component of our strategy.

“In order to meet this critical objective and in the shortest timeframe possible, our planned Alaska Strategic Metals Complex (SMC) will be designed to have the ability to produce REOs from commercially available, US allied-sourced REE feedstocks, addressing US security of supply for the most critical and highest-value REEs, specifically, praseodymium, neodymium, terbium, and dysprosium.

“We expect the Alaska SMC to operate at a commercial scale utilising pre-Bokan mixed REE concentrate feedstocks while the Bokan HREE project continues to be developed.”