A Two-Step Process for the Treatment of Refractory Sulphidic Concentrate
Methods for improving the treatment efficiency of a refractory gold-bearing sulphidic concentrate are proposed. These methods consist of the oxidation of the concentrate through a two-step process: a high-temperature ferric leaching step and a subsequent biooxidation step, which further involves the use of organic nutrients. The concentrate contained 34.7% pyrite and 7.9% arsenopyrite. The biooxidation of the concentrate (in a one-step process) was conducted at 45°C in bioreactors under continuous conditions. The pyrite and arsenopyrite oxidation levels after 240 hours were 60.2 and 92.0%, and the gold recovery level by cyanidation was 65.7%. The two-step process involved the leaching of the concentrate by a Fe3+-containing solution and the subsequent biooxidation of the leach residue. The pyrite andarsenopyrite oxidation levels after 240 hours of biooxidation were 65.7 and 94.1%, and the gold recovery level was 71.7%. The effect of an organic nutrient (yeast extract) on biooxidation during the two-step process was studied. The pyrite and arsenopyrite oxidation levels after 240 hours of biooxidation under mixotrophic conditions were 73.5 and 95.1%, and the gold recovery level was 77.9%. The effect of the organic nutrient on the microbial population was determined. Sulfobacillus thermosulfidooxidans and Acidithiobacillus caldus were the predominant microorganisms studied under both autotrophic and mixotrophic conditions. Archaeon Acidiplasma sp. MBA-1 was a minor component of the microbial community under autotrophic conditions but was one of the predominant microorganisms studied under mixotrophic conditions. The strain MBA-1 could oxidise both ferrous iron and elemental sulphur in the presence of yeast extract. These results suggest that the organic nutrient changed the composition and increased the activity of the microbial population. Thus, a two-step process with organic nutrients added during biooxidation may be considered an effective strategy for treating refractory pyrite-arsenopyrite concentrates.
Dr. Nicolas Guiliani, Cecilia Demergasso, Raquel Quatrini, Francisco Remonsellez, Carol Davis-Belmar, Gloria J. Levicán, Pilar Parada, Carlos Barahona and Rebekah Zale
M. I. Muravyov and A. Bulaev, "A Two-Step Process for the Treatment of Refractory Sulphidic Concentrate", Advanced Materials Research, Vol. 825, pp. 246-249, 2013