Kazakhmys started industrial testing of innovative technology – cathode copper production of sulphide ore (Hydrometallutgy)
Kazakhmys Corporation LLC, the largest copper producer in Kazakhstan, started pilot testing of innovative technology –processing of concentrate, originated from low-grade sulphide copper ore. Hydrometallurgy implementation will allow to include low-grade copper ore into extraction. This will result in raw material base replenishment and prolongation of the Zhezkazgan site production operation for more than 50 years.
At the moment R&D and lab testing are completed by the Company. Hydrometallurgical experimental-industrial unit was built and successfully tested at the territory of the Zhezkazgan Smelter in August. Positive results were shown for cathode copper production.
Hydrometallurgy will be implemented alongside with the acting technology -pyrometallurgy. Raw material from more promising deposits (Zhilandy group and the second stage of Zhaman-Aibat) will arrive to the Zhezkazgan Smelter.
About 1 bn tons of ore was extracted to grass during 80 years of mines` operation in Zhezkazgan Region. Raw-material base depletion is an unavoidable and expected process. However, according to Company`s geological survey, there are about 1 bn tons of base, cut-off grade copper ore, which is explored but non-remunerative to process under the existing technology. A large leach plant is planned to build in Zhezkazgan for such ore processing.
This is innovative, future defining technology. Operational risks shall be estimated and eliminated to the maximal extent before the construction. Thus, two leach plants of different capacity are planned to build. The 1st one shall be a pilot plant, with the capacity 32 160 tons of copper concentrate annually, construction completion and commissioning are planned for the beginning of 2017. USD 30 mn will be provided by Kazakhmys for this purpose. In the long term, the large leach plant`s construction will be designed.
The plant`s capacity shall be 649 200 tons of copper concentrate annually, capital expenses shall be more than USD 350 mn, construction is planned for 2018-2021.
Besides, the innovation technology was developed in cooperation with Kazgidromed LLC – the technology of concentration waste processing for more than 850 mn tons of waste collected at the Zhezkazgan Concentrator. “All these steps are made for raw-material base compensation”, noted Talgat Tokbulatov, Head of the Pilot Plant Construction Project.