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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: July 3rd 2009


Click for more info on Hi-Tech Metals '18


:: Improved Treatment for High-sulphur Residues

There is increasing industry interest in technologies to treat sulphur-rich residues from hydrometallurgical processes - with the aim of not only improving sustainable storage but also capturing sulphur, precious metals and other by-products.

Such residues result from hydrometallurgical processes commonly used in the production of copper, zinc and nickel. Typically they contain elemental sulphur, gypsum (from lime neutralisation), iron oxides, acid insoluble concentrate components, minor base metals and precious metals. These residues currently require long-term storage. Because residue with a high elemental sulphur content is flammable, sub-aqueous storage in a low dissolved-oxygen environment has been one option, but a number of environmental bodies have questioned the long term desirability of this, arguing that the material is not inert.

Vale has expressed interest in a research program to explore improved treatment processes which would address both these sustainability issues and recovery of by-products. Because of the widespread use of these hydrometallurgical processes, there would appear to be benefits in other companies joining the project.

Canadian and other North American researchers would play a key role, with Memorial University, Newfoundland, keen to be involved.

This is an issue for a wide range of nickel, copper and zinc producers. Further information is available from Terry Braden, Regional Manager of AMIRA North America.




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