Copper Electrowinning in the Absence of Acid Mist: Six Years of Industrial Application

Acid Mist Capture - Abstract with details about this technology fully developed by SAME.

This paper reviews the fundamentals of a state – of – the art tankhouse ventilation system where acid mist captured at the source is further treated through high efficiency scrubbers allowing the releasing of clean and dry air to the ambient. Results obtained at plants show that acid mist concentration inside/outside the building is well below the acceptable limits, issue particularly important for plants located at high altitudes. Friendly hoods are incorporated into the harvesting process and other operational activities maintaining the actual production cycles. The control of acid mist in Copper Electrowinning Tankhouses generates a series of benefits such as: reduced corrosion of the buildings, savings in electrolyte heating, improvement in worker’s comfort, mechanization of operations and allow marginal expansions using same cells at increased current densities.

Copper production has increased significantly since the introduction of SX/EW on large scales in the early 1990’s, from 0.78 million ton/year in 1993 to 2,95 millions in 2002 and it is expected to reach 3.6 million ton/year by 2006 (1,2). The incorporation of the SX/EW route has become very critical to some traditional plants due to its lower production cost. The potential application of bio-leaching processes to treat primary copper concentrates opens an opportunity for unpredictable production levels.

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