Treatment of the acidic effluent from a copper smelter by flotation tailings

Miroslav Desimir Sokić, Dragana Radovanović, Branislav Marković, Jovica Stojanović, Željko Kamberović, Nela Petronijević, Srđan Stanković

Abstract


Since commissioning in 1961, the copper mine Majdanpek, a part of the Mining and Smelting Complex Bor (RTB Bor), produced approximately 378 million tons of flotation tailings. Semi-quantitative mineralogical analysis of the flotation tailings revealed significant content of carbonate minerals (approximately 20-25 %), indicating high acid neutralization capacity. Also, approximately 70 % of copper is in the form of the oxide mineral cuprite (Cu2O). Copper can be easily leached from cuprite by using sulphuric acid. The RTB Bor copper smelter generates 8.7 m3h-1 of extremely acidic waste effluent (142.4 kgm-3 of sulphuric acid, pH -0.464) with relatively high concentrations of dissolved metals and metalloids (Cu, Fe, Zn, Pb and As). The effluent is currently treated with hydrated lime. The present study focused on application of flotation tailings as a neutralizing agent for acidic effluents. Laboratory experiments followed by computer simulation of the industrial process showed that 99% of the acid can be neutralized with flotation tailings in a series of six reactors resulting in the final copper concentration of 1.55 gL-1. Benefits of the proposed process are: lower environmental impact of the process and reduced costs of neutralization of the acidic effluent from the copper smelter.


Keywords


flotation tailings; acidic effluent neutralization; copper leaching

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.2298/HEMIND181009010S

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