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RECUPERACIÓN FRACCIONADA DE ZINC Y COBRE EN SOLUCIÓN BARREN DE MERRIL- CROWE

The gold and silver cyanide mining process is widely known in the mining industry. Among the factors that reduce its extractive efficiency are the species called cyanicides, substances that consume cyanide without any benefit to the process and that also inhibit the dissolution of gold and silver. The minerals arsenic, antimony, copper, iron and zinc are known as cyanicides.

The content of dissolved metals in the circuits is a factor that influences both the main cyanidation process and the complementary cyanide control process in tailings. The lower the content of dissolved metals in the solution, the better the recovery of silver and gold values, and the cyanide consumption is usually lower.

In industry, a well-known process (SART) is used to precipitate dissolved copper by acidification from the solution, followed by precipitation with hydrogen sulphide to recover copper in the form of sulphide and regenerate cyanide from the hydrogen cyanide gas formed during acidification of the cyanide solution.

This paper aims to develop an alternative and feasible process to recover copper and zinc by fractional or selective precipitation from a cyanide solution in an alkaline medium, taking advantage of the solubility properties of the zinc and copper ionic species.

The proposed process can be applied to solutions resulting from the Merrill Crowe silver and gold precipitation process with zinc powder, which is recirculated as process water to the cyanidation circuit. This paper has determined the operating parameters for the fractional precipitation of zinc and copper in an alkaline medium, so that the cyanide solution is recirculated to the main process with lower contents of the aforementioned metallic ions.

We conclude that the two products obtained from the fractional precipitation in alkaline medium, due to their copper and zinc contents, respectively, constitute commercially valuable products for the market.

In addition, recirculating the cyanide solution with lower copper and zinc content improves the main cyanidation process, enhancing silver recovery and improving the performance of the cyanide control process in the depleted solution forming the final tailings.

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