Engineering design for a ferric chloride leaching plant to leach complex base metal sulphides

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 90, No. 1009, 1997

W.M. Smith and P.J. Brooks, Neill and Gunter Limited, Fredericton, New Brunswick, and R.A. May, Richard May and Associates, Fredericton, New Brunswick

Neill and Gunter Limited (NGL) has prepared a preliminary design and a cost estimate for a ferric chloride leach plant to recover copper, lead, zinc, and silver from a typical complex sulphide ore. This plant design is specifically intended to treat unconcentrated ground ore (flotation feed), but can be readily adapted to treat bulk concentrates. Samples of ground ore and bulk concentrate were obtained from Heath Steele Mines, Miramichi, New Brunswick, laboratory testing, and preliminary process flow sheet preparation was carried out by the Research and Productivity Council in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Approximately thirty drawings have been produced, including process and equipment flowsheets, process piping and instrumentation drawings, and preliminary general arrangements. Preliminary capital and operating cost estimates were prepared for a plant that would treat 1000 t/d of crushed and ground ore to produce about 30 000 tpy of zinc. Capital and operating cost estimates were also projected for plants up to 4000 t/d of processed ore. Recoveries of 99% for zinc, 98% for lead, and 96% for copper were achieved in laboratory tests on unconcentrated ore. These recoveries were higher than the overall recoveries obtained from bulk concentrate, yielding approximately 10% more revenue. A 1000 tonne per day plant was determined to have a low return on investment, however, depending on the size and type of mining operations employed and the FCL plant throughput. DCF-ROI projections of 20% to over 30% were calculated for 100% equity financed “green field” mine, mill and FCL plant operations of 2000 t/d and higher.
Mots Clés: Mineral processing, Leaching plants, base metal sulphides, ferric chloride leaching plants.