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Comment Processing & Handling

Winning copper from low-grade ore

By Paul Grad |

India holds large reserves of low-grade sulfide copper ore containing 0.3 wt.% copper, which cannot be processed through conventional routes since the cut-off grade for treatment in concentrators is about 0.45 wt.%. India is in short supply of copper and an appropriate technology for processing low-grade ores would contribute to India’s economy. Accordingly, a team from the Institute of Minerals & Materials Technology (Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India; www.immt.res.in), led by Professor Lala Behari Sukla, developed a process flowsheet to recover copper metal from the lean sulfide ore of copper available at Malanjkhand, Hindustan Copper Ltd. Copper-pregnant leach solution obtained from bio-heap leaching of chalcopyrite containing 0.3 wt.% copper was purified through solvent extraction for removal of impurities and then passed through activated carbon to produce an organic-free solution suitable for copper electrowinning. The team used a mixed culture of acidophilic bacteria, predominantly Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans. It employed a method of repeated subculturing to activate the strain. During each subculturing processes, 2 L of the full-grown media were centrifuged, to collect the total biomass to be used for the next experiments.…
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