Tag Archives: SX-EW

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.