Kazakhstan`s largest copper producer, Kazakhmys Corporation LLC, has started its pilot testing of an innovative technology - processing of concentrate produced from low-grade copper-sulphide ore . Hydrometallurgy introduction shall allow to involve low-grade copper ore into processing, resulting in raw material base recovery and prolongation of Zhezkazgan site operational life for another 50 years.
At the moment the company has completed its R&D and laboratory testing. In August, 2017 the Hydrometallurgical Experimental-Industrial Section was established and successfully tested within Zhezkazgan Smelter. Outcomes received were positive for copper cathode production.
Hydrometallurgy will be introduced simultaneously with the existing technology – pyro metallurgy. Zhezkazgan Smelter is going to be fed by more promising deposits – Zhilandy Group and Zhaman-Aibat (second stage).
Over 80 years of Zhezkazgan mines operation about 1 billion tons of ore was produced. Depletion of mineral resources base is an inevitable and expected process. However, the Company`s geological survey estimates about 1 billion tons of proven, low-grade, non-commercial copper ores. Their procession by traditional method is not feasible, so a big hydrometallurgical plant in Zhezkazgan for their processing is on the roadmap .
- This technology is innovative ,technology of the Future. Prior to the plant construction we have to do our best in estimating and avoiding operational risks. Two hydrometallurgical plants of different capacity are planned. The 1st one is going to be a Pilot plant with a capacity of 43 800 tpa. Commissioning is planned for January, 2020, Kazakhmys spending amounts USD 40 mln.
In the long run, following positive outcomes receiving by the Pilot plant, we are going to work on a big hydrometallurgical plant construction (2024-2027). Plant`s capacity is going to be 649 200 tpa, capital costs – over USD 350 mln.
Besides, in cooperation with KazHydroMed LLC, we have developed an innovative technology - procession of concentration wastes (over 850 mln. t. stock at Zhezkazgan Concentrator). All these steps are made for Zhezkazgan raw material base recovery, - comments Vladimir Kirillov, Head of the Project.