Hydrometallurgy Process for Copper Ore

Hydrometallurgy Process for Copper Ore


Copper is the third most used metal in the world, and because of its physical and chemical properties such as high conductivity, corrosion resistance and excellent ductility, it is widely used in electric power, electric vehicles, telecommunications, computers, mobile phones, construction, transportation , industrial machinery and infrastructure and other industries, is the best material for the manufacture of electrical products. It is also often used in the manufacture of valves, connecting pipes for internal and external air conditioners, radiators and handicrafts. In addition, copper is used in the manufacture of fungicides and various chemical products.

Copper is essential to modern life and will be driven by rapid electrification and the growing availability of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar; copper plays a fundamental role in creating a sustainable low-carbon world.

Copper is a non-ferrous metal with a crustal abundance of 0.01%; the average minimum industrial recoverable grade of copper mines is 0.4%; after the copper ores mined from copper mines are flotation into copper concentrates, the copper grade can reach 24 %; After the copper concentrate is smelted and produced into anode copper, the copper content can reach 98%-99%; after the anode copper is electrolytically produced into cathode copper, the copper content can reach more than 99.95%.

Why choose hydrometallurgy for copper ore

Pyrochemical treatment of copper sulfide ore has the advantages of high productivity, low energy consumption, and is beneficial to the recovery of gold and silver. But now there are two problems, the first is the resources, and the second is the air pollution.

1. Resource issues: Copper sulfide ore is the main raw material for pyrometallurgy at present, but the mining grade is getting lower and lower; therefore, low-grade sulfide ore, compound ore, oxide ore and tailings will become the main resources for copper smelting in the future. And this kind of ore cannot be directly treated by pyrometallurgy.

2. Air pollution issues: As long as sulfide ore is used as raw material for pyrometallurgy, sulfur dioxide will pollute the atmosphere to varying degrees.

Based on the above two reasons, the copper ore hydrometallurgical process has been greatly developed in recent years as it has been chosen by more and more people.

Advantages of copper ore hydrometallurgical process

As an effective way to solve the problem of metal mineral resources utilization, hydrometallurgy process is more suitable for the recovery and utilization of low-grade mineral resources.

  • 01The significant advantage of hydrometallurgy process is the high recovery rate of valuable metals in raw materials;
  • 02The production process is easier to realize automation and continuity, so it is more suitable for the recycling of low-grade mineral resources;
  • 03The production line has strong process flexibility;
  • 04The comprehensive recovery rate of associated components is good.

Process flow of copper ore hydrometallurgy

01Crushing, grinding process

Crushing and grinding are the primary technological processes of copper ore hydrometallurgy. After being crushed, the raw ore enters the ball mill for grinding at a controllable speed, and finally reaches the qualified particle size before entering the next production process. In hydrometallurgy, a certain amount of water needs to be added to the mill to maintain the density of the mill.

02Leaching process

Leaching is to select a suitable solvent to selectively dissolve valuable metal elements or harmful impurities in ores, concentrates or smelting intermediate products, and transfer them into the solution to achieve the purpose of separating valuable elements from harmful impurities or gangues . In addition to ores and concentrates, the leaching materials may also be residues after smelting, anode slime, waste alloys, etc.

Raw ores and concentrates are usually composed of a variety of minerals, the composition is very complex, and valuable elements often exist in the form of compounds such as oxides, sulfides, arsenides, carbonates, sulfates, and phosphates. It also exists in the form of metals, such as gold, silver, natural copper and so on. The appropriate solvent and leaching method must be selected according to the characteristics of the raw material.

03Purification of leaching liquor process
(extraction, stripping)

The purification of the leaching liquor is the process of separating the target metal from the impurities in the solution and removing the harmful impurities in the leaching liquor. During the leaching process of raw ore or concentrate, when the target metal is transferred from the raw material to the solution, certain impurities will also enter the solution.

In order to facilitate precipitation and extraction of the metal of interest, impurities must be removed prior to precipitation to obtain a solution as pure as possible. The purification of leaching liquor is relative. The impurity metals separated by purification are often important raw materials to be recovered as valuable semi-products.

04Extraction of metals from solution (Electrowinning)

The process of separating and recovering the metal materials contained in the aqueous solution through the conversion of the metal state from the solution is one of the important steps of hydrometallurgy.

The copper hydrometallurgy process uses electrowinning, which refers to the process of depositing or precipitating substances on electrodes. When the current passes through the electrolyte solution, the copper ions on the electrode can be reduced to copper and deposited on the electrode.

Electrowinning is an important chemical analysis method that can be used to determine the concentration of certain ions in a solution. The principle of electrowinning is based on the difference in electrode potential. When the electrode potential is lower than the reduction potential of certain ions, these ions are reduced to metal or deposited on the electrode. Electrowinning can be used to analyze metal ions, non-metal ions and organic matter in solution.

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Henan Mecru Heavy Industry Technology Co., Ltd. is located in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, which is divided into office area and factory area, covers an area of 35,000 square meters, including more than 30,000 square meters of factory area. The company has more than 200 employees. Mecru Heavy Industry Technology Co.,LTD. is a manufacturer and specialized in research, production, and sales of intelligent crushing and screening plant. As a promoter of the sand and gravel aggregate processing and mineral materials processing industries, MECRU is making efforts to provide customers with the best technology, equipment and services.

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