20 Apr 2013, 2:54am

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Rock Chemistry

Indeed, in one concentrator 1 to 2 hours after the copper content in the ore already is concentrated end, while in the heap leaching must spend weeks or months. Thus, to similar capacity, leaching plants are huge compared with the concentrator plants. On the other hand, leachable resources existing in nature are limited in relation to the non leachable, the latter constituting around 80% of the global mining business. Moreover, hydrometallurgy can not grow independently, because sulfuric acid, obtained mainly from smelters that process concentrates it requires for its development. We know today that hydrometallurgy carries certain advantage compared with the Pyrometallurgy, especially if we take the perspective of the care of the environment. And adding the bioleaching. After the explosive growth in the hydrometallurgy of copper, between the years 80 and 90, this already consolidated technology has become a fundamental tool in addressing the future challenges of the copper business. Hydrometallurgy is an interdisciplinary field which includes geology, chemistry, hydrology, extractive metallurgy, mining, process engineering and economy.

Some of the factors to be considered in a hydrometallurgical project are: the chemistry of leaching the chemistry of the rock (gangue) workflow solution in the ore (percolation) free space in the ore to allow the passage of the porosity of the rock solution transportation from inside the rock towards the flow (chemical diffusion) recovery of the metal/mineral environmental impact technology solutions chemistry of rich solution water management Balance loss solutions (pools, pumping, irrigation, collection, etc.). Management of chemical reagents Mineral processing. Control of processes, among others. Currently: chalcopyrite is the next challenge according to sector specialists (the future of primary sulphides will mark the future of extractive metallurgy of copper).