Indirect Bioleaching and ZINCEXTM Process: A Profitable Marriage to Process Zinc Polymetallic Concentrates
Indirect bioleaching is a biotechnology that presents important advantages when apply to bioprocessing of zinc and zinc polymetallic concentrates such as high metals recovery, fast kinetic of 4-5 hours to get full metals extraction, sulphur oxidation to elemental sulphur (avoiding sulphuric acid generation, while pyrite mineral remains untouched), and use of conventional reactors (aeration is not required) and normal process equipments. On the other hand, the development of high-efficiency bioreactors for ferrous iron bio-oxidation based on flooded fixed-bed model has opened the way to succeed in the potential commercial application of this innovative bio-hydrometallurgical technology, being especially attractive to benefit zinc and lead bulk or polymetallic concentrates containing other valuable metals like silver. In addition, a great variety of concentrates is feasible to be processed, e.g. in the range of 15% to 60% Zn and Pb metals content. That aim, within European Biomine project, for the first time in biohydrometallurgy field, indirect bioleaching technology applied on Zn/Pb polymetallic concentrates has been demonstrated in continuous in an integrated pilot plant at Tecnicas Reunidas’ (TR) R&D Centre in Madrid (Spain) producing electrolytic SHG zinc plates. Overall zinc recovery in the integrated pilot facility after more than 300 operating hours has been above 95% thanks to the ability and good performance of the ZincexTM technology (solvent extraction and electrowinning), in which obtaining of SHG electrolytic zinc is fully guaranteed with high current efficiency (above 93%) and good deposit morphology. In definitive, a profitable marriage between indirect bioleaching process and ZincexTM technology has been successfully demonstrated in TR facilities at pilot plant scale, and main results of such integrated pilot plant operation are presented in this paper.
Edgardo R. Donati, Marisa R. Viera, Eduardo L. Tavani, María A. Giaveno, Teresa L. Lavalle, Patricia A. Chiacchiarini
C. Frías et al., "Indirect Bioleaching and ZINCEXTM Process: A Profitable Marriage to Process Zinc Polymetallic Concentrates", Advanced Materials Research, Vols. 71-73, pp. 429-432, 2009