The Sherritt-Cominco Copper Process PART I: The Process

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 790, 1978

G. M. Swinkels, Chief, Mineral Processing Research, Technical Research Centre, Cominco Ltd., Trail, B.C., R. M. G. S. Berezowsky, Senior Research Metallurgist, Research and Development Division, Sherritt Gordon Mines Limited, Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta

Sherritt Gordon and Cominco, with financial assistance from the Canadian Government through PAIT, have developed a hydrometallurgical process for refining copper from sulphide concentrates. The main objective of the project was to develop a process applicable to a wide range of concentrates with respect to copper content, other metals content and impurities, within the economic parameters set by present smelting and refining practice. Other important objectives were to recover sulphur in its elemental form and not as sulphur dioxide to assure improved hygienic conditions and a negligible impact on the environment. For the most abundant and relatively refractory chalcopyrite concentrates, the first step of the process is thermal activation with hydrogen to decompose chalcopyrite and pyrite, commonly associated with it, into more reactive sulphides more amenable to leaching. The iron is then selectively extracted by sulphuric acid leaching and subsequently rejected as jarosite. High-bornite concentrates do not require thermal activation and acid leaching; they are subjected to another hydrometallurgical iron removal step.
Keywords: S-C Process, Sherritt Gordon Mines Ltd., Cominco Ltd., Hydrometallurgy, Copper recovery.