The start-up and operation of the Gibraltar Mines SX-EW Plant

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 81, No. 920, 1988

J.C. O'ROURKE,Gibraltar Mines Ltd.,McLease Lake, British Columbia

Gibraltar Mines Ltd. has been operating its open pit copper mine for fifteen years. In that time, over 140 million tons of waste and low-grade material has been placed on the mine waste dumps. Laboratory and in situ testing indicated that enough teachable copper was recoverable from the dumps to justify a leaching operation which would include the construction of a solvent extraction-electrowinning plant. The plant, which was commissioned in October 1986, was designed to process 3000 USGPM of dilute copper solution to produce 5000 tons per year of high-quality cathode copper. This paper deals with the start-up and initial year of operation of this plant. The three areas: leaching, solvent extraction, and electrowinning are presented with emphasis on the innovations which were made to help overcome the problems unique to the Gibraltar operation.
Keywords: Mineral processing, Milling, Leaching, Solvent extraction, Electrowinning, Copper extraction.