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Minerals 2017, 7(5), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/min7050085

Insights into Ferric Leaching of Low Grade Metal Sulfide-Containing ores in an Unsaturated Ore Bed Using X-ray Computed Tomography

1
School of Materials, University of Manchester, Oxford Rd., Manchester M13 9PL, UK
2
Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University, Durham DH1 3LE, UK
3
Centre for Bioprocess Engineering Research, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X6, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
4
Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Royal School of Mines, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK
5
Department of Materials, Imperial College London, Prince Consort Rd., London SW7 2BP, UK
6
Research Complex at Harwell, Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, Harwell, Oxfordshire OX11 0FA, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: M. Thaddeus Ityokumbul
Received: 22 February 2017 / Revised: 11 May 2017 / Accepted: 16 May 2017 / Published: 22 May 2017
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Abstract

The distribution of the metal-bearing mineral grains within a particulate ore prepared for leaching, and the impact of this spatial heterogeneity on overall extraction efficiency is of key importance to a mining industry that must continuously target ever-reducing grades and more complex ore bodies. If accessibility and recovery of the target minerals is to be improved, a more detailed understanding of the behaviour of the system must be developed. We present an in situ analysis using X-ray computed tomography to quantify the rates of volume reduction of sulfide mineral grains in low grade agglomerated copper bearing ores during a miniature laboratory scale column leaching experiment. The data shows the scale of the heterogeneity in the leaching behaviour, with an overall reduction of sulphide mineral grains of 50%, but that this value masks significant mm3 to cm3 scale variability in reduction. On the scale of individual ore fragments, leaching efficiency ranged from 22% to 99%. We use novel quantitative methods to determine the volume fraction of the sulfide that is accessible to the leachate solution. View Full-Text
Keywords: X-ray tomography; leaching; chalcopyrite X-ray tomography; leaching; chalcopyrite
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Dobson, K.J.; Harrison, S.T.L.; Lin, Q.; Ní Bhreasail, A.; Fagan-Endres, M.A.; Neethling, S.J.; Lee, P.D.; Cilliers, J.J. Insights into Ferric Leaching of Low Grade Metal Sulfide-Containing ores in an Unsaturated Ore Bed Using X-ray Computed Tomography. Minerals 2017, 7, 85.

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