Tag Archives: SX-EW

Atalaya Mining approves construction of E-LIX-backed processing plant at Riotinto

Atalaya Mining has, following a feasibility study, approved the construction of the first phase of an industrial-scale plant using the E-LIX System to produce high value copper and zinc metals from the complex sulphide concentrates sourced from Proyecto Riotinto (pictured) in Spain.

Following its announcement on October 28, 2020, Atalaya concluded the study, which evaluated the technical and economic viability of producing cathodes from complex sulphide concentrates by applying E-LIX, a new, patented electrochemical extraction process developed and owned by Lain Technologies Ltd.

Relative to conventional flotation techniques, the value creation potential of E-LIX offers a unique opportunity for Atalaya, it said. As a result – and as previously disclosed – the company secured certain terms of exclusivity with Lain Tech for the use of E-LIX within the Iberian Pyrite Belt.

The E-LIX plant will dissolve the valuable metals contained within the concentrates. The test work and system design allows for the dissolution of chalcopyrite while avoiding the passivation of particles. After copper or other metals are brought into solution, they can be recovered by conventional precipitation or solvent extraction followed by electrowinning (SX-EW).

Phase I plant capacity has been designed to produce between 3,000-10,000 t of copper or zinc metal per year depending on the ratio of copper to zinc in the concentrate feed.

The estimated capex for Phase I is €12 million ($13.6 million) and the design allows for unlimited capacity expansion through the addition of multiple lines in parallel. Atalaya will start the construction of the plant in the coming weeks and it is expected to be operational in 2022, including commissioning.

The decision to approve and construct the Phase I industrial-sized plant follows over six years of evaluation and de-risking work including continuous tests at the laboratory, a small pilot plant and finally a semi-industrial pilot plant, Atalaya explained.

A semi-industrial E-LIX pilot plant was constructed in late 2019 and has operated during 2020 and 2021, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. The results of the pilot tests were included in the feasibility study and successive optimisation work. The long run continuous tests demonstrated the feasibility of leaching complex polymetallic concentrates with global recoveries of over 95% for copper and zinc while producing clean metal precipitates and/or high purity metals.

Atalaya said the use of the E-LIX System has shown the potential to unlock the significant value from the polymetallic sulphides contained within Atalaya’s mineral resources, including:

  • The polymetallic deposits of San Dionisio, San Antonio, Masa Valverde and Majadales, all of which are located in the Iberian Pyrite Belt and within trucking distance of Proyecto Riotinto’s  15 Mt/y processing facility;
  • The significant contained metal within these historical drilled resources from San Dionisio and Masa Valverde contain over 1.1 Mt of copper, 2.4 Mt of zinc, 1.7 Moz of gold, over 110 Moz of silver as well as additional lead resources. These figures are in addition to the over 1 Mt of copper reserve at Proyecto Riotinto’s Cerro Colorado orebody and at Proyecto Touro; and
  • Historical applications of differential flotation within the Iberian Pyrite Belt in Spain and Portugal have typically resulted in recoveries of 60-80% into concentrates for complex copper-zinc polymetallic sulphides, with even lower recoveries historically reported for lead, silver and gold. The use of hydrometallurgical systems, such as E-LIX, has demonstrated that base metal recoveries of over 90% can be achieved.

E-LIX is, Atalaya said, also expected to reduce Atalaya’s carbon footprint. By producing high-purity metals on-site, Atalaya can reduce the transportation costs associated with delivering concentrates to smelters, avoid treatment and refining charges associated with converting concentrates into metal and eliminate penalties associated with deleterious elements often contained within concentrates produced in the Iberian Pyrite Belt and elsewhere. The E-LIX plant is also expected to use the renewable energy that will be produced by Proyecto Riotinto’s planned solar plant.

Alberto Lavandeira, Atalaya CEO, said: “The E-LIX System offers Atalaya a unique opportunity to unlock significant value from its portfolio of deposits that contain complex polymetallic mineralisation. Atalaya has worked together with Lain Technologies for many years in order to test, refine and demonstrate the E-LIX process, providing the company with confidence in its potential. In addition to enhancing recoveries, E-LIX will eliminate penalties associated with deleterious elements and reduce the costs of transportation and energy, thereby improving the company’s carbon footprint.”

Lifezone hydromet tech blueprint puts Kabanga Nickel in pole refining position

Kabanga Nickel is ready to put its ‘money where its technology is’ in the pursuit of production from a highly prospective nickel-copper-cobalt asset in Tanzania, according to Keith Liddell, Executive Chairman.

Having been granted access to a project that has had more than $290 million spent on it by previous owners such as Barrick Gold and Glencore between 2005 and 2014, including 587,000 m of drilling, the company is coming at the Kabanga project with a fresh set of eyes and a plan that aligns with the government’s in-country beneficiation requirements.

The outcome of this previous investment is an in-situ mineral resource of 58 Mt at 2.62% Ni, containing more than 1.52 Mt of nickel, 190,000 t of copper and 120,000 t of cobalt. This resource is in the process of being updated with the latest modelling software.

The Barrick-Glencore joint venture also outlined a mine plan in a draft feasibility study that looked to recover 49.3 Mt of ore at 2.69% nickel equivalent from the two primary orebodies – North and Tembo. Again, Kabanga is re-evaluating this strategy, having identified several opportunities to enhance project outcomes including a development plan that facilitates higher production rates and access to high-grade ore earlier in the mining schedule.

Yet, the biggest departure from the previous plans for Kabanga is the “mine to metal” concept that Liddell and Dr Mike Adams, Senior Vice President: Processing & Refining, have been marketing.

This is part of the reason why the Tanzanian Government signed a binding framework agreement with Kabanga Nickel earlier this year that resulted in a joint venture company called Tembo Nickel Corp (owned 84% by Kabanga Nickel and 16% by the Government of Tanzania) to undertake mining, processing and refining to Class 1 nickel with cobalt and copper co-products near the asset.

Unlike the plethora of smelter plans being drawn up in the likes of Indonesia and the Philippines – two other countries attempting to keep more ‘metal value’ in-country – Kabanga’s plan hinges on a hydrometallurgical refining route.

This isn’t a carbon copy of the high pressure acid leaching (HPAL) technology the industry is used to hearing about – most of the time for the wrong reasons. The hydrometallurgy Kabanga is talking about is more in keeping with the process Vale uses at Long Harbour in Canada, Adams pointed out.

“There’s hydrometallurgy and then there’s hydrometallurgy,” he told IM. “HPAL is incredibly different to the Lifezone hydrometallurgy we are proposing at Kabanga, which is dealing with sulphide concentrates. Our process is effectively 17% of the HPAL carbon footprint; HPAL has a much higher carbon footprint than smelting, let alone what we are proposing.

“Our technology comes with lower temperatures and pressures, and the materials of construction are nowhere near as exotic as HPAL. It is more economic and more environmentally friendly than both HPAL and smelting.”

The ‘Lifezone’ Adams mentioned is Lifezone Limited, a technology and development company established by Liddell to exclusively own and develop the patented rights to the Kell Process – a unique hydrometallurgical process. Although devised to treat platinum group metals and refractory gold ores without smelting or the use of cyanide, and with major energy savings, cost benefits and a significantly reduced environmental impact (CO2 and SO2) over conventional technologies, the Kabanga team is keen to draw from Lifezone’s experiences when it comes to devising the refining plan in Tanzania.

They and much of the South African platinum industry are looking at developments at Sedibelo Platinum’s Pilanesberg Platinum Mines (PPM) operation on the Bushveld Complex where a 110,000 t/y beneficiation plant employing the Kell Process is currently being constructed. This plant has the capacity to produce 320,000 oz/y of platinum group metals at the refinery end, with seven refined metal products set to be produced on site.

If Sedibelo, which Liddell is a shareholder of, can achieve such a feat, it will become the first South African PGM operation producing refined PGM, gold and base metal products on site. At the same time, this metal production would come with some 82% less energy consumption and the associated significant reduction in carbon emissions, plus improved recoveries and lower operating costs, than conventional off-site PGM smelting.

But, back to Tanzania, where the aim is to deploy hydromet technology with a specifically designed flowsheet to leach and refine the base metals. End products from the Kabanga refinery will be Class 1 nickel and cobalt metals with >99.95% purity readily saleable to customers worldwide, as well as A-grade copper cathode for the Tanzanian market, according to the company.

Not only is this different to conventional pyrometallurgical nickel sulphide smelting and refining – which, according to Liddell comes with around 13 t of CO2 emissions per tonne of Class 1 nickel metal, compared with the 4 t of CO2 emissions per tonne of nickel (Nickel Institute industry baseline numbers) with the Lifezone hydrometallurgical route – it also removes the need to transport and export concentrate long distances to European, North American or Asian smelters and refineries for further processing.

Such benefits and plans go some way to answering the questions around how Kabanga is holding a nickel-copper-cobalt asset that many battery metal investors and mining companies would be interested in.

Kabanga Nickel is putting Lifezone’s hydrometallurgy expertise to the test at the project in Tanzania

The majors might not be ready to offer up a plan featuring in-country beneficiation with new technology, but Kabanga and Lifezone are.

“As you know, the industry is very conservative – no-one wants to be first, they want to be second,” Liddell said. “As technology providers, we’re going to be first and second – first with the Kell Process plant in South Africa and second with the hydromet plant at Kabanga.

“We have ownership in those so, in effect, we are putting our money where our technology is. In a conservative industry, you have to do this.”

Liddell is right.

Take battery-electric vehicles or hard-rock cutting technology on the mobile equipment side of the mining business. The OEMs, to gain market traction, had to invest in the technology, build prototypes and mine-ready vehicles and then convince the miners to test them at their sites – most of the risk was held with the tech providers, not the miners.

While Lifezone will have to take on similar technology and financial risks for industry buy-in, all the billed benefits of its hydromet technology fit the mining industry ESG and productivity brief, making it a technology that has applications beyond Kabanga, Tanzania and nickel.

According to the company, it represents an architecture of several well-proven “breakthrough” hydromet process technologies – namely pressure oxidation of sulphide minerals, selective solvent extraction of metals and selective metal absorbents – that realise the value of all waste streams, both in-process and by constructing local, regional and global circular economies.

It comes with higher metal recoveries, lower costs, lower environmental impact, a less complex flowsheet, shorter production pipeline and reduced value lockup for those companies employing it. This means metal production comes sooner, more metal is produced at a lower cost and with a lower footprint and less potentially payable metal is left in the waste stream due to a lack of viable processing options.

The main unit operations at Kabanga are likely to include aqueous pressure oxidation in an autoclave to dissolve the sulphides and remove the base metals; copper refining by SX-EW; iron removal to purify the solution for cobalt and nickel refining; cobalt refining by SX-EW; and nickel refining by SX-EW. This could result in 40,000-50,000 t/y of nickel metal as cathode, powder or briquette, alongside 8,000 t of copper cathode and 3,500 t/y of cobalt cathode or rounds.

The refinery blueprint – designed in a modular manner to bolt on additional process trains, according to Liddell and Adams – could see Tanzania become the multi-metals processing hub it has eyes on, processing material from across East Africa and retaining more value in-country. Down the line, it could align itself even closer with the battery metals sector by producing precursor products that gigafactories are calling out for.

Beyond Kabanga Nickel, Liddell sees potential for applying this hydromet concept at existing smelting operations to lower the footprint and operating cost of operations.

“The hydromet process uses anywhere between one fifth and one third of a smelter’s electricity input,” he explained. “You can replace a 50 MW electric smelter with a 10 MW hydromet plant. At the same time, the process allows refiners to get more metal out of the concentrate. This means the lower energy draw and increased revenues can pay back the money invested in a hydromet plant.”

For operations looking to incorporate more renewables, this reduced power draw is a major selling point.

Similarly, for countries like South Africa looking to retain or grow its metal production blueprint while weaning themselves off coal amid routine power blackouts, the concept stacks up.

“In South Africa, you could end up producing the same amount of metals off a much lower power base, and it’s then much cheaper to green up that electricity,” Liddell said.

The potential is vast, and Kabanga Nickel has an 18-month program currently ahead of it to start development.

This one-and-a-half-year plan follows the recent issue of a mining licence that allows the company to get on the ground – symbolised by the drill rig (pictured above) that is about to start turning on site.

Over this timeframe, the plan is to update the existing feasibility study numbers and bolt a refinery module onto it, explore avenues with metallurgical drilling to boost the concentrate grade and re-work the mine design to access the two orebodies simultaneously. The latter is one of the ways the team could access more value sooner in the production process.

All of this could set the company up to start production from Kabanga in 2024-2025, 1-2 years after the Kell Process goes live at Sedibelo’s operation and in time for a further run up in battery metals demand and, most likely, more governments legislating for in-country beneficiation.

Kabanga Nickel and Lifezone’s plans could end up being a future tried-and-tested blueprint.

Metso Outotec VSFX solvent extraction tech set for Taseko’s Florence Copper Project

Metso Outotec has signed an agreement with Florence Copper Inc, a subsidiary of Taseko Mines Ltd, to supply copper solvent extraction and electrowinning technology for a plant to be built in Arizona, USA.

The order, exceeding €20 million ($24 million), has been booked in the Metals’ segment September quarter orders received.

The Metso Outotec delivery includes the modular VSF®X solvent extraction plant and the main process equipment for the electrowinning plant.

“We are very excited to have purchased the key SX/EW process equipment from Metso Outotec, a world leader in mineral processing and hydrometallurgical technologies,” Stuart McDonald, President and CEO of Taseko Mines, says. “The VSFX technology is ideally suited for our Florence Copper Project, which is set to become one of the most energy-efficient and low-carbon copper producers in the world. The modular nature of the equipment will reduce construction time and allow Florence to commence copper production quicker than with other technologies available.”

Back in February, Taseko, having just completed a $400 million bond refinancing and fundraising program, said it was moving forward with developing a commercial operation at its Florence in-situ recovery project.

Jari Ålgars, President of the Metals business area at Metso Outotec, says: “We are looking forward to working with Taseko Mines on the Florence Copper Project. The energy-efficient VSFX solvent extraction plant, which is part of our Planet Positive product range, reduces emissions and is safe to operate. The Florence Copper Project will become an important new reference for Metso Outotec in the US copper market as a supplier of a complete production plant that uses solvent extraction and electrowinning technology for copper recovery.”

Trevali to test out FLSmidth’s Rapid Oxidative Leach tech on Caribou material

Trevali Mining has announced the commencement of a pilot plant testing program using Caribou run-of-mine and milled material at FLSmidth’s Rapid Oxidative Leach (ROL) process testing facility in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The program expands on previous laboratory test work and is aimed at demonstrating the potential to recover zinc, lead, copper, gold and silver as a precipitate or metal and additional zinc and lead from Caribou ore and mill tailings.

The leach test program is targeting an improvement to zinc, lead, copper, gold and silver metal recoveries, the potential to produce a precipitate or metal on site replacing the current ore concentrate that is produced at Caribou – which, if implemented, would lead to savings on transport costs and offsite treatment costs – and the opportunity to process historic mill tailings, which include gold and copper metals, in addition to run of mine ore. The latter would increase revenues and reduce closure liabilities, Trevali said.

Trevali says the use of FLSmidth’s ROL technology also provides the potential to reduce Trevali’s carbon footprint at Caribou and extend Caribou’s mine life and treat lower-grade deposits in the Bathurst camp of Canada.

FLSmidth says ROL leaches 97-99% of copper directly on-site in six to eight hours, from concentrates as low as 5% Cu. In gold, ROL has the potential to unlock the value of undeveloped refractory gold deposits with less than 3 g/t gold head grade, it says.

Unlike other refractory processing techniques, the ROL process uses the application of mechanical energy coupled with oxidation under atmospheric conditions. The process relies on stirred media reactors to accelerate the oxidation of sulphide minerals. This eliminates the need for ultrafine grinding, high temperatures and high pressure which makes it energy saving and very cost-effective, according to the mining OEM.

Trevali said a successful pilot plant test program using ROL may allow Trevali to replace the existing flotation circuit at Caribou with atmospheric leach vessels and potentially an SX/EW train, introducing the possibility of producing base and precious metals on-site and thereby save transport costs and offsite treatment costs.

Conceptual objectives of the program include:

  • Recovery of metals/minerals that are not recoverable using the current technology at Caribou (precious metals and magnetite); and
  • Improved payables/selectivity of the traditional flotation process using new and emerging technologies.

Ricus Grimbeek, President and Chief Executive Officer of Trevali, said: “FLSmidth’s ROL metallurgical technology has the potential to transform the Caribou mine and the wider Bathurst Mining Camp.

“This next phase of the testing program is an essential step in evaluating the suitability and economic viability of a processing solution with the potential to enhance the value of the in-situ material and tailings at Caribou as well as the surrounding deposits in the Bathurst region. The positive results to date support further study and analysis given the potential implications for the Bathurst Mining Camp in general and Trevali in particular.”

Beyond quantifying the ability to recover additional metal values, the objective for the pilot plant test program is to determine the various kinetic factors, mass and energy balance and engineering data to support future engineering on a preliminary economic assessment for potential processing of the Trevali mill feed and mill tailings and produce metal on site.

Continuous pilot plant trials commenced in June 2021 (Phase 1) to tune the pilot plant and provide material for precious metal leach tests in late July, followed by a test program at the Caribou Mine site that is planned for September 2021 (Phase 2). Leach data and results are expected to verify that batch testing results can be achieved in a continuous operation.

Atalaya Mining evaluating Lain Tech’s E-LIX System for copper cathode production

Atalaya Mining has commenced the execution of a feasibility study to evaluate the economic viability of producing cathodes from complex sulphide ores prevalent in the Iberian Pyrite Belt through the application of a new extraction process called the E-LIX System.

The production of cathodes has the potential to generate cost savings by reducing charges associated with concentrate transportation, treatment and refining, and penalty elements, while also reducing carbon emissions, the company said.

E-LIX System is a newly developed electrochemical extraction process developed and owned by Lain Technologies Ltd, led by Dr Eva Lain, who holds a PhD in Electrochemistry research from the University of Cambridge.

Through the application of singular catalysts and physico-chemical conditions, E-LIX System is able to achieve high metal recoveries under low residence times, by accomplishing rapid reaction rates while overcoming classic surface passivation issues that have typically impaired metal recovery from complex sulphide ores, Atalaya said. E-LIX System is considered to be a more environmentally-friendly process than existing technologies; it generates zero emissions and does not consume water or acid, and runs under mild operating conditions (atmospheric pressure and room temperature).

Patented in 2014 by Lain Tech, the E-LIX System has been developed in collaboration with Atalaya from an initial concept in the laboratory to a fully operational pilot plant located at Proyecto Riotinto, in Spain.

The pilot plant with a capacity of 5 t/d has been running for the past nine months, with only mandatory stoppage owing to COVID-19 restrictions. Leach rates of up to 250 kg/h have been achieved processing copper concentrates, zinc concentrates and blends of different types of sulphides, according to the company. The pilot plant also contains a solvent extraction and electrowinning (SX-EW) section and has successfully produced high purity copper cathodes as a proof of concept.

Excellent leach results with recovery rates well over 90% have been attained, the company said. Fast kinetics for copper and zinc have also been successfully achieved overcoming the well-known passivation problem of leaching primary sulphides.

The pilot plant has demonstrated that the E-LIX System effectively treats the impurity levels typically associated with the complex sulphides present in the pyrite belt that runs through the south of Portugal and Spain and prevalent at Proyecto Riotinto.

During the past five years, Atalaya has provided financial assistance to Lain Tech to develop the E-LIX System and has now reached an agreement with Lain Tech to use its patents, on an exclusive licence basis within the Iberian pyrite belt in Spain and Portugal.

Under the terms of the licence agreement and based on the encouraging operating results at the pilot plant, the company has commissioned a feasibility study to evaluate the construction of an industrial scale plant for the production of a minimum of 10,000 t/y of copper cathode metal. The study at a cost of around €1 million ($1.2 million) will be funded by Atalaya and is expected to be finalised in 2021. The agreement also provides for a profit sharing arrangement between Atalaya and Lain Tech.

“The feasibility study will be based on the results obtained from the pilot plant and aims to confirm the scalability of the E-LIX System and the capital and operating costs of the industrial plant,” Atalaya said. “Should the industrial plant be built, it will be funded and constructed by Atalaya with Lain Tech designing, operating and managing the E-LIX System.”

Atalaya believes that the use of the E-LIX System could potentially be applicable to the large amount of complex sulphide ore inventory present throughout the Iberian pyrite belt, including Atalaya’s mining properties such as Proyecto Riotinto and Proyecto Masa Valverde, it said.

Atalaya CEO, Alberto Lavandeira, said: “We are fortunate to have been given this unique opportunity to work with Dr Eva Lain in the development of the E-LIX System. I believe this system has the potential to play an important role in the economic treatment of many complex orebodies worldwide. We look forward to updating the market on the results of the feasibility study.”

CAML’s Kounrad operation hits copper cathode milestone

Central Asia Metals Ltd (CAML) says, on April 18, the Kounrad copper recovery plant, in Kazakhstan, produced its 100,000th tonne of cathode – a significant milestone for an operation processing material previously deemed as ‘waste’.

CAML’s Kounrad copper resources are within the waste dumps formed during prior mining activities of the Kounrad deposit, which commenced in the 1930s.

The facility recovers copper from the Eastern and Western dumps that accumulated from open-pit mining operations from a period that started in 1936 and ended in 2005. Over time, oxides and low-grade sulphides of copper formed a significant tonnage deposited at the mine site.

Leached metal from the dumps finds its way to the solvent extraction and electrowinning processing plant via a series of storage ponds. At the plant, copper is produced with the final cathode product delivered from the Kounrad site by rail and sea to the end customers, predominantly in Turkey.

Since CAML’s leaching operations began in April 2012, Kounrad has produced 100,000 t of copper cathode at C1 cash costs averaging $0.55/Ib, or $1,212.54/t (2012-2019); has generated gross revenue of $601 million from copper sales (2012-2019); and has supported a Kazakh workforce comprising 323 employees and 86 contractors (2019).

Nigel Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are delighted to have reached this significant milestone of producing 100,000 t of copper from Kounrad at costs that are amongst the lowest in the world. We owe a debt of gratitude to the on-site team led by General Director, Pavel Semenchenko, and guided by our Technical Director, Howard Nicholson.”

Wood studies Coro Mining’s development options at Marimaca copper project

Coro Mining says it has appointed Wood to advance engineering studies related to the development of its Marimaca copper project, in northern Chile.

The study announcement came at the as Coro announced a resource increase at Marimaca, which, the company said, established Marimaca as one of the largest copper oxide discoveries in northern Chile in over a decade.

The engineering studies are aimed at demonstrating the value to be captured by combining Marimaca’s significantly enlarged resource – now standing at 420,000 t of contained copper in the measured and indicated categories and 224,000 t in the inferred category – with “easy access to excellent infrastructure”, and move Coro from “a ‘cents per pound in the ground’ exploration project to a credible development company to be valued on a net present value basis”, Coro said.

Wood is set to take on a range of engineering studies to demonstrate the economics for a conventional full-scale project at Marimaca; and low capital expenditure (capex) alternatives for staged development at Marimaca, leveraging the nearby Ivan SX-EW plant (100% owned by Coro), according to Coro.

On the latter, Coro said: “The objective of staged development would be to minimise upfront capex and limit equity dilution to Coro’s shareholders.”

The company anticipates that the work from the various studies will be completed during 2020 and news will be released as work progresses.

A June 2018 feasibility study on just the Marimaca 1-23 Claim returned an after-tax internal rate of return of 58.8% and initial capital costs of $22.6 million for the upgrading and start-up of the Ivan plant, at a $3/lb ($6,614/t) copper price.

Baikal Mining and Outotec sign equipment supply cooperation agreement

Baikal Mining Company and Outotec have confirmed that they have signed an agreement that could see the technology company supply process equipment to the Udokan Mining and Metallurgical Plant in Kalar District, Russia.

Udokan is thought to host the third largest undeveloped copper deposit globally, with a JORC-compliant resource of 26.7 Mt of copper.

The document, a cooperation agreement according to Outotec, was signed by Baikal’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Valery Kazikaev, and Outotec President and CEO, Markku Teräsvasara at the St Petersburg Economic Forum. It was later followed by a press release from Outotec saying the two had signed a €250 million ($282 million) delivery contract for the copper operation.

This will see Outotec design and deliver a greenfield copper concentrator and hydrometallurgical plant for the Udokan project.

Around €35 million of the €250 million contract will be booked in Outotec’s June quarter order intake, with roughly two thirds of the order booked for Minerals Processing and a third for Metals, Energy & Water segment.

“Outotec’s delivery includes basic and detail engineering of the concentrator and copper hydrometallurgical plant, procurement, delivery of main process equipment as well as installation supervision, training and start-up services,” the company said.

Kazikaev said in Baikail’s release: “A unique flotation and hydrometallurgical Udokan ore processing flowsheet including bulk and sulphide flotation, leaching, solvent extraction (SX) and electrowinning (EW) was developed as a result of long-term research performed by BMC together with major Russian and international engineering companies.”

Outotec equipment, expected to be delivered in 2020, was selected for the implementation of this ore processing flowsheet, Baikail said.

Teräsvasara said: “We are happy to enter into cooperation with Baikal Mining Company on such a significant project. Our high-end technologies and competent service shall enable Baikal Mining Company to develop consistently and improve production efficiency.”

Baikal said flotation cells with the capacity varying from 20-300 m³ were expected to be used for flotation beneficiation of ores, while hydrometallurgical processing would employ reactors, high-compression thickeners, modular SX units and EW equipment. The latter is expected to reduce the construction period by 20%, Baikal noted.

A fully-automatic cathode withdrawal and loading crane and cathode stripping machine shall alos be applied for copper EW, according to the company.

Kazikaev said the Udokan Mining and Metallurgical Plant shall be the first plant in Russia to use these technologies, all of which are “notable for ore processing potential irrespective of the quality and oxidation of the ore and achieving high process performance”.

Stage one annual capacity of the plant is expected to be 12 Mt/y, with start-up in in 2022. There are also plans for a further exansion up to 48 Mt/y, according to Baikal.

FLSmidth to move into ROL copper demonstration mode in 2019

FLSmidth has provided an update on its Rapid Oxidative Leach (ROL) technology at the same time as reporting a boost in revenue and profit for 2018.

Releasing its 2018 annual report, the company said revenue grew by 4% year-on-year to DKK18.75 billion ($2.8 billion) in 2018, with a 13% growth in order intake (DKK19.17 billion) attributed to strong results from its mining division.

Its mining division saw an order intake of DKK12.86 billion, 24% higher than 2017,  driven by growth in copper, while earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation came in at DKK1.19 billion, 18% up on 2017’s result.

Within the annual report, the company provided an update on its ROL technology, a process it first announced the discovery of in May 2015.

“This groundbreaking solution overcomes three major challenges in the mining industry (copper in particular); declining ore grades, increasing levels of arsenic and other impurities, and reduced production from existing solvent extraction and electrowinning facilities due to falling recoveries from heap leach when transitioning from oxide to sulphide ores,” the company said.

FLSmidth said it was currently testing concentrates from several interested copper miners at its pilot plant in Salt Lake City, US (pictured), and at a third-party independent laboratory.

“The purpose of these tests is to establish data for the customers to determine if they would like to move ahead with prefeasibility studies,” FLSmidth explained.

During 2017-2018, the concentrates from one customer were tested and indicated a positive return on investment. “We have agreed with this customer to supply equipment and operate a demonstration-scale ROL process plant at their facility in South America,” FLSmidth said, adding, “this is an important step in scaling up and commercialising the ROL process”.

In addition to copper, the company has tested ROL with refractory gold and it has proven possible to apply the technology in the laboratory to significantly improve gold recovery, it said.

“We are currently working with several gold producers in research and development of this process, with the goal of potentially moving on to pilot scale testing in 2019,” the company concluded.