Optmization of the solvent extraction with the aid of the isocalc software.

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Masapi, Justin
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Leaching of sulphide minerals has never been successful under atmospheric conditions. Process plants that attempt to treat sulphides via the hydro metallurgical route can either pre-treat the sulphides which include roasting, to decompose to leachable oxide or leach under high pressure in the Autoclaves. In this project, the high pressure leaching was utilized. As the result of that it was projected that more acid would result in the pregnant solution, higher temperature and above all the copper tenor was also expected to improve. To quickly determine the effects of changing these operating parameters, the isocalc software was used. Preliminary testworks were done to have an overview of the plant operating conditions and also make it possible to run the software. The pH was varied to see how it affects the SX performance, organic strength, temperature and also the organic to aqueous flowrates were varied to counter the effects of improved copper grades without changing the staging. In this project it was established that, at a stabilized copper grade of 4.5gpl Cu in the pregnant solution, the optimum pH of 2 was arrived at, O/A flowrates of 1.7, and the organic strength of 27 v/v% gave the best results in that the recoveries were high. These also gave minimal copper losses in the raffmate. It was also observed that increasing the aqueous flows while keeping the organic flowrates constant resulted in high copper losses in the raffmate and the converse reduced the losses. The optimized parameters were entered into the program and gave a good result in the advance solution of SOgpl copper. This is higher than the average 43-45 gpl Cu.
Solvent extration , Sulphides