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the three curves shown, at a predetermined maximum Much of the instrumentation work in the equipping

pressure loss. of the wind tunnel was carried out by Mr. E. G.

The completed K57 Shaft should show an even Thomas, Research student?
better result, because the steel buntons actually in-
stalled (Fig. 8) are much more streamlined than the
corresponding shape used in the test represented by 'G.E. McElroy: Engineering Factors in the Ventilation of Metal
Mines, U.S. Bureau o f Mines B u l l e t i n No. 385. 1935.
item 3 ( s e e Fig. 4).
'K.M. Finlay and G.G. Northcote: The K57 Shaft Project, Mount
This section is fabricated by welding (by the sub- Isa Mines Ltd., 1965.
merged arc process) of two pressed or rolled com- 3 ~ Greuer:
. Der Wetterwiderstand von Schachten, Bergbau Archiv,
ponents. It was developed in South Africa, and i s 1960, vol. 21, No. 1.
believed t o cost no more than a standard rolled s t e e l 4 J . ~ Bromilow:
. The Estimation end the Reduction of the Aero-
joist of comparable strength. dynamic R e s i s t a n c e of Mine Shafts. Transactions Instn Min.
Engrs, May 1960, vol. 119, Pt. 8 .

'F.T.M. White: T h e Queensland University Experimental Mine,

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS P r o c e e d i n g s o f Eighth Commonwealth Mining & Metallurgical
Grateful acknowledgement i s due to the Management Congress, 1965.

of Mount I s a Mines Limited for the sponsorship of the 6 ~ . Gregory:

~ . Wind Tunnel T e s t i n g F a c i l i t y at University's
Experimental Mine, Minlng & Chemical Engineering R e v i e w ,
project investigation and for permission to publish 16 August. 1965.
this paper; and to Professor F.T.M. White, to Mr. ' I ~ r i t i s hStandards Institution: F l o w Measurement, B . S . 1042:
W.E. Vance (a colleague), to Mr. David J . Parker 1943.
(laboratory technician), and t o many others, for 'E.G. Thomas: Instrumentation for Ventilation Studies on a Mine
valued assistance in carrying out the work. Shaft Model, T h e s i s (B.E.), 1961, University of Queensland.


by D. H. Rose, V. Lessels, and D. J. Buckwalter

A cyanide leaching process developed a t Michigan and pillar mine produces 18,000 tons of ore per day,
Technological University was tested in a 12 to 24 which i s treated in a flotation plant. The concentrate
tpd pilot plant. Flowsheet layout a n d equipment a r e i s smelted in a reverberatory furnace, the matte i s
described. Cyclic operation of leaching, copper pre- blown in converters to blister copper, and the blister
cipitation by acidification, a n d regeneration of the copper is further refined to a uniformly high-quality
cyanide leaching solution a r e discussed. Copper ex- Lake copper, which i s 100% conductive and has a
traction and reagent consumption were a s predicted silver content of 25 to 40 oz per ton.
by laboratory tests, and the process was proven to be The run of the mine ore averages 22.5 lbs of copper
technically feasible. per ton with the ore mineral occurring in the form of
chalcocite. The nature of the mineralization is such

T he White Pine Copper Co., a wholly-owned sub-

sidiary of the Copper Range Co., produces copper
in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Production in
that the sand tailings average a little over 4 lbs of
copper per ton. Intensive research h a s improved copper
recovery in the flotation operation to some extent, but
1965 amounted to 138 million pounds of metal. An ex- a t the s c a l e of present operation about 12,000 tons of
pansion program now under way will increase this by sands containing over 48,000 lbs of copper go to the
approximately one half. The highly mechanized room tailings pond daily. When the plant expansion i s com-
pleted, the l o s s of copper will be somewhat greater.
D. H. ROSE i s Research Chemist, Inst. of Mineral Re-
search, Michigan - Technological
- .. Houghton,
University. - Mich.; In 1959, the White Pine Copper CO, initiated a study
V. LESSELS, Member AIME, i s Senior Research Engineer, of the recovery of copper in the sand tailings. Inas-
and D. J . BUCKWALTER i s Smelter Superintendent, White much a s the flotation operation was considered to be
P i n e Copper Co.. White P i n e , Mich. T P 67B30. Manuscript,
optimized, a logical approach seemed to be leaching.
Nov. 1, 1966. L o s A n g e l e s Meeting, February 1967. Dis-
c u s s i o n o f this paper, submitted i n duplicate prior to For various reasons ammonia, ferric chloride, acid,
Sept. 15, 1967, will appear i n SME Transactions, December and biological leaching were ruled out a s impracti-
1967, and AIME Transactions, 1967, vol. 238. cable. This led to a consideration of cyanide leach-

Society of Mining Engineers JUNE 1967 - 221

ing a s practiced in t h e precious metals industry. leaching tank is shown in F i g . 2. In operation t h e
In an early investigation at t h e White P i n e Labora- tank w a s filled with s a n d by means of a revolving
tory, s a n d tailings were treated with a solution of distributor positioned just below t h e tank cover. A
calcium cyanide under oxidizing conditions, and t h e barometric l e g attached to t h e underside of the filter
copper dissolved readily; however, cyanide recovery permitted u s e of vacuum to i n c r e a s e t h e percolation
was not sufficiently high t o make t h i s leaching rate. T h e leached s a n d s were flushed into a 12-in.
method economic. In August 1960, t h e study w a s discharge pipe extending up through t h e center of t h e
brought to t h e Institute of Mineral Research a t t h e tank just to t h e filter level; water j e t s were placed
Michigan Technological University a s a sponsored around t h e periphery of the tank t o completely remove
project. Laboratory experimentation there eventually the sands.
developed a process whereby cyanide w a s conserved T h e sulfuric acid precipitator c o n s i s t e d of a c l o s e d
by the exclusion of air, and about 90% of t h e copper s t a i n l e s s s t e e l tank 24 in. in diam by 3 6 in. high
was dissolved with very l i t t l e l o s s of either cyanide containing a s e a l e d Lightning agitator. Pregnant
or sulphide ions. L e a c h i n g methods, copper precipi- leach solution w a s pumped into t h e tank continuously.
tation, cyanide regeneration, and optimum concentra- Sulfuric acid w a s metered to the tank by a pH con-
tion l e v e l s were a l s o investigated. T h i s work led t o troller on t h e precipitator overflow. T h e acid slurry
a process on which a patent entitled Treatment o f from t h e precipitator w a s filtered and washed on a
Sulfidic Material w a s granted (U.S. P a t e n t No. 24-in. laboratory EIMCO filter with an enclosed
3,224,835) in December 1965. s t a i n l e s s s t e e l filter drum.
T h e acid filtrate storage tank w a s a cylindrical
s t e e l , rubber lined, two-cubic meter tank a l s o
Due to s u c c e s s on the bench s c a l e a t t h e Michigan equipped with a s e a l e d Lightning mixer.
Technological University, a recommendation was T h e cyanide regeneration equipment consisted of
made to t h e White P i n e Copper Co. that a pilot plant three towers packed with 1-in. Berl s a d d l e s and con-
be built to demonstrate t h e feasibility of the cyanide nected in s e r i e s s o that nitrogen could b e passed up-
leaching process. P i l o t plant t e s t s were desirable ward through e a c h tower. T h e first two towers, for
because of t h e lack of operating plant d a t a on cyan- stripping, were 1 0 in. i n diam by 1 5 ft high and made
ide leaching of copper sulphide ores. It w a s deemed of s t a i n l e s s s t e e l . Acid filtrate containing HCN w a s
necessary to i n ~ e s t i g ~ both
t e the mechanical and chem- passed downward through t h e first tower, then pumped
i c a l feasibility of t h e process on a pilot plant s c a l e , i t to t h e top of t h e s e c o n d tower and p a s s e d downward
w a s necessary t o confirm t h e predictions b a s e d on the countercurrent to t h e stream of nitrogen. T h e solution
laboratory results, and, further, i t w a s necessary t o
obtain data for design of a prototype plant. WATER

Construction of a 1 2 t o 24 ton per day pilot plant

located in the mill building a t White P i n e w a s com-
pleted in August 1963, and pilot plant t e s t s were
carried on from that time until June 1964.
Chemistry of Process: T h e chemistry of the process
involves the following reactions:

3caff + 2 C u ( C ~ ? +l S = +
3H ,SO4- 3CaS04

H' + CN- ( i n solution) -HCN ( g a s i n N2)
2HCN + CaO -Ca (cN?, + H ,0.
Flowsheet and Equipment: A schematic diagram of
the pilot plant flowsheet is shown in F i g . 1.
T h e leaching tank consisted of a closed cylindrical
v e s s e l 8 ft in diam and 1 0 ft high, with a filter 6 in.
above t h e conical bottom, and a g l a s s covered view-
ing port near the top of t h e tank. A diagram of t h e Fig. I - Flowsheet o f Cyanide P r o c e s s .





ti-1 -





W D F ~ V W l f f iCOCKS




F i g . 2 - Diagram o f L e a c h i n g T a n k .
Fig. 3 - Conductivity Curve for T e s t No. 50.

stripped of c y a n i d e w a s discharged t o w a s t e through and t h e amount of cyanide approached t h e original

a trap a t t h e bottom of t h e s e c o n d tower. T h e cyanide- concentration while t h e solution w a s saturated with
laden nitrogen w a s then p a s s e d upward counter- copper.
current t o a downward stream of lime water i n the When the conductivity of t h e effluent began t o r i s e
third, or absorption, tower t o remove t h e HCN. T h i s again, indicating t h e presence of f r e e cyanide, t h e
tower, made of ordinary iron pipe, w a s 10 in. i n diam solution w a s diverted t o the 'Recycle' tank. B e c a u s e
by 12 ft high. T h e regenerated solution discharged t o of i t s high cyanide a n d low copper content, t h i s solu-
leach s t o r a g e through a trap a t the bottom of t h e ab- tion w a s used for new l e a c h make-up.
sorption tower contained virtually a l l of t h e original A s soon a s the conductivity began to drop, indi-
cyanide that had been i n t h e a c i d filtrate. c a t i n g that wash water w a s beginning t o percolate
Leaching Operations: T h e raw s a n d t a i l s for t h e t e s t s through t h e bed, t h e effluent w a s a g a i n diverted t o
averaged 0.241%copper. In s i z e structure, t h e s a n d the 'Ends' tank. Here i t w a s collected until t h e
w a s 65% +200 mesh, 10% +325 mesh, and t h e re- cyanide concentration became too low for economical
mainder -325 mesh. T h e s a n d t a i l s w e r e dewatered regeneration, and t h e remaining effluent w a s wasted.
t o about 60% s o l i d s by a Krebs 6-in. cyclone. Enough In actual plant operations, t h e residual cyanide in
lime w a s added t o t h e leach feed a s a floculating wasted effluent would b e destroyed by chlorination.
agent t o r a i s e the pH t o 11.2. Without lime, s e v e r e In a typical t e s t on 14.5 t o n s of s a n d t a i l s a s s a y i n g
channeling occurred when t h e alkaline l e a c h solution .228% copper, about 1663 gal of cyanide containing
contacted t h e ore. 18.7 g NaCN e q / L and 0.2 g C u / L were required.
During leaching, a vacuum of 19 in. w a s applied t o T h e entire l e a c h i n g c y c l e from filling t o emptying the
t h e barometric l e g o f t h e l e a c h i n g tank. P r o g r e s s of tank took about 12 hrs. About 87.6%of t h e copper
the l e a c h i n g c y c l e w a s monitored continuously by w a s recovered in t h e 'Rich', 'Recycle', and 'Ends'
recording the conductivity of the effluent l e a c h solu- s o l u t i o n s with a cyanide l o s s of about .18 l b s NaCN
tion. A typical conductivity curve for o n e of the per pound of copper recovered. T h e amounts of t h e s e
t e s t s , with the c y a n i d e and copper concentrations s o l u t i o n s and their c y a n i d e and copper concentrations
superimposed, is shown in F i g . 3. T h e s h a p e of t h i s are shown in T a b l e I.
curve and c h a n g e s i n conductivity governed the Precipitation of t h e copper from t h e 'Rich' and
leaching operation. 'Ends' solutions w a s accomplished i n t h e precipita-
When t h e tank had been filled with s a n d t a i l s a n d tion equipment previously described. T h e laboratory
the e x c e s s water decanted, t h e required amount of t e s t s h a d shown t h a t nearly a l l of t h e copper could
calcium c y a n i d e solution p l u s a s l i g h t e x c e s s w a s be precipitated a s C u z S at pH 2 . 3 t o 3 provided there
pumped onto t h e bed. At the beginning of t h e l e a c h i n g w a s 10% e x c e s s sulfide ion concentration present
c y c l e , effluent w a s discharged until there w a s a r i s e over t h a t theoretically required. In t h e pilot plant,
in conductivity. At t h i s first indication of cyanide, sodium bisulfide (sulfide make-up) w a s added directly
t h e solution w a s diverted t o t h e 'Ends' s t o r a g e tank. t o t h e 'Rich' and 'Ends' s t o r a g e t a n k s t o adjust t h e
T h i s solution w a s low in both copper and cyanide. s u l f i d e concentration.
A s soon a s the conductivity reached 10 t o 12 T h e dried filter c a k e w a s composed of copper s u l -
micromhos, t h e solution w a s diverted t o t h e 'Rich' fide and gypsum. Several t e s t s indicated that n o
s t o r a g e tank. Here the curve approached a plateau, problems would occur in matte smelting by adding
S o c i e t y o f Mining Engineers JUNE 1967 - 223
accounted for in t h e final cyanide balance.
Table I. L e a c h Solution Distribution and Concentrations
- - Consumption of other reagents per pound of copper
Volume, N a C N Eq., Copper, recovered were: lime 2.06 Ibs, s p e n t sulfuric acid
Gal g/L 91'- (75%) 3.60 l b s , and sodium bisulfide 0.099 lbs.
Reagent c o s t s per l b of recovered copper were
Rich 1122 16.5 5.4
about 9~ t o lo$, depending upon shipping c o s t s . By
Recycle 515 17.2 1.5
altering the present flotation flowsheet s o a s to
Ends 760 3.2 .7
combine t h e cleaner flotation t a i l s with t h e coarser
fraction of s a n d t a i l s , t h e amount of l e a c h plant feed
t h i s c a k e directly t o t h e flotation concentrate, a s would b e decreased t o about 7,000 tpd while t h e
gypsum anhydrite could be substituted for limestone copper content would be raised to about 7 l b s per ton
in the reverberatory furnace. of sand. Reagent c o s t s for a feed of t h i s character
With the possible u s e of flue g a s in mind, partial would s t i l l be about 9~ to 1 0 per ~ l b of copper
precipitation w a s a l s o carried out with C O , according recovered.
to the following reaction:
3 H 2 C 0 3 + NaHS + 2CaCu(C~),-2CaC0, + CONCLUSIONS

NaHCO, + C u 2 S + 6HCN.
I U s e of t h i s process t o recover copper from flotation

T h i s proved s u c c e s s f u l chemically, but the crystal-
tailings depends upon t h e following conditions which
prevail a t White P i n e :
line CaCO, fouled the equipment a n d p i p e l i n e s t o 1) T h e tailing to b e leached p o s s e s s e s little value,
s o far a s conventional beneficiation processes a r e
such a n extent that continuous operation became
concerned, for other than road material.
a) Recovery by flotation t o produce smelter feed
T o regenerate calcium cyanide solution, the a c i d
appears to b e a t i t s economic limit.
filtrate w a s run through the stripping and absorption
towers previously described. Regenerated leach solu- b) T h e amount of acid-soluble material and lack of
pyrite in t h e flotation tailings makes conventional
tion could b e concentrated to a s high a s 4 5 g NaCN
acid-ferric s u l f a t e or bacterial leaching unattractive.
eq/L. T h i s i s a significant s t e p in t h e process in
c) Ammonia leaching of cuprous sulfide is ineffec-
that i t makes i t possible t o eliminate either dilution
tive compared with extraction by cyanide.
water or wash water from the system, and t h e proper
balance of solution volumes and concentrations c a n
2) Preparation of feed for leaching is inexpensive.
a ) No grinding of larger s i z e s i s required to make
thus be maintained. When t h e HCN i n t h e a c i d filtrate
copper available for leaching in a limited time.
was sufficiently high, t h e filtrate w a s realkalized
b) Removal of fines t o obtain necessary flow
with lime and returned directly t o t h e leach solution
c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of t h e leach bed is e a s i l y
storage tank along with t h e 'Recycle' solution. By
running a l l three s t a g e s of leaching, precipitation,
3) Copper is rapidly soluble and contaminants
and regeneration simultaneously, the process was
are not.
4) Washing is rapid and thorough.
All equipment and storage tanks of t h e plant were
Reagent c o s t s per l b of copper a r e well-defined.
vented t o a central scrubbing system t o avoid con-
Operating labor c o s t s in a well-instrumented plant
tamination of the air by cyanide vapor. AS a further
should compare with t h o s e in a conventional plant.
precaution, a i r in t h e plant w a s analyzed continu-
Maintenance c o s t s should not b e e x c e s s i v e . Capital
ously a t 1 2 different points by an automatic HCN
c o s t s per ton of material treated will be high. A
analyzer connected t o a warning alarm.
7000-tpd cyanide plant may c o s t $1300 to $1400 per
OPERATING RESULTS, REAGENT ton compared t o $600 t o $1000 per ton for a flotation
CONSUMPTION, AND COSTS plant of the s a m e capacity.
Economic a n a l y s i s indicates that an otherwise
T h e overall copper recovery in pilot plant t e s t s w a s v a l u e l e s s feed material containing a s little a s 7 l b s
91.65%, while cyanide l o s s e s averaged 0.362 Ibs of copper per ton i s potentially profitable when
(NaCN eq) per lb of copper recovered. T h e cyanide treated i n a 7000-tpd plant.
l o s s e s were distributed a s follows: leaching 29.1%,
precipitation and filtering 27.276, and stripping and
regeneration 43.7%.
During the first s t a g e s of t e s t i n g i t w a s found that T h e authors wish t o acknowledge the contributions
l o s s e s due to formation of cyanide, thiocyanate and of co-workers W. A. Hockings, Research Engineer,
ferrocyanide were not s e r i o u s ; consequently, they Institute of Mineral Research, Michigan Technological
were not determined routinely. However, they a r e in- University and Dr. H. M. Gaudin, Richard's Professor
cluded in the above total cyanide l o s s a s they were of Metallurgy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.