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:: All Aboard with Albion
The Albion Process, Xstrata's innovative oxidative leach technology, was commissioned in July last year at Xstrata Zinc's San Juan de Neiva refinery in Spain. The demonstration plant treats approximately 9000 tpa of McArthur River Mine (MRM) zinc/lead bulk concentrate to produce 4000 tpa of zinc metal. Zinc recovery of 98 to 99% is being achieved by the plant. The concentrate is ground at MRM using IsaMills(tm) to produce ultrafine particles (P80 ~7ým), before leaching in the Albion Process.
At Xstrata Zinc's Nordenham zinc refinery in Germany, a larger demonstration Albion Process plant has been recently commissioned and is also achieving zinc recoveries over 98%. The Nordenham plant produces 20,000 tpa of zinc metal from MRM concentrate. In addition to the Albion Process, both the San Juan de Neiva and Nordenham plants use Xstrata Technology's HyperSparge(tm) technology to supply oxygen to the leaching tanks.
The two Albion plants are the first stages of potentially much larger plants, with 70,000 tpa and 150,000 tpa of annual zinc production being studied for the San Juan de Neiva operation and Nordenham operation respectively.
Mike Hourn, Hydrometallurgy Manager for XT, said the start up of the plants was trouble free, with zinc metal being produced from the plants during the commissioning phase. The start up of the process with the new HyperSparge(tm) at both operations went smoothly, with the longest running operation, San Juan de Neiva, not requiring any maintenance on the spargers in over 9 months of operation.
A third Albion Plant is scheduled to be commissioned late this year, with the Las Lagunas project in the final stages of construction. The Las Lagunas plant will recover gold and silver from refractory concentrates using a combination of the Albion process and conventional CIL.
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