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Detailed copper process

2022-01-05 12:13:08

The world's smelting methods for producing electrolytic copper from copper concentrates are divided into two categories: pyrometallurgical smelting and hydrometallurgical smelting. At present, more than 80% of refined copper output is produced by pyrometallurgical smelting, and refined copper produced by wet smelting accounts for about 20%. The details are as follows.

1. Pyrometallurgy

Pyrometallurgy is the main method of copper production today, accounting for 80% to 90% of copper output, mainly for processing sulfide ore. The advantages of pyrometallurgical copper smelting are strong adaptability of raw materials, low energy consumption, high efficiency, and high metal recovery rate. Fire copper smelting can be divided into two categories: One is the traditional process: such as blast furnace smelting, reverberatory furnace smelting, and electric furnace smelting. The second is modern strengthening technology: such as flash furnace smelting, molten pool smelting.

Since the middle of the 20th century, global energy and environmental issues have become prominent, energy has become increasingly tight, environmental protection regulations have become increasingly stringent, and labor costs have gradually increased. This has promoted rapid development of copper smelting technology since the 1980s, forcing traditional methods to have to be New strengthening methods are used instead, and traditional smelting methods are gradually eliminated. Following the emergence of advanced smelting technologies represented by flash smelting and bath smelting, the most important breakthrough is the wide application of oxygen or oxygen enrichment. After decades of hard work, flash smelting and bath smelting have basically replaced the traditional fire smelting process.

1. Pyrometallurgical process

The pyrotechnic process mainly includes four main steps: matte smelting, copper matte (matte) blowing, blister copper fire refining and anode copper electrolytic refining.

Sulfur-making smelting (copper concentrate-matte): It mainly uses copper concentrate to make matte smelting. The purpose is to oxidize part of the iron in the copper concentrate, remove slag, and produce matte with higher copper content.

Copper matte blowing (matte-blister copper): the copper matte is further oxidized, slagging is used to remove iron and sulfur in the copper matte to produce blister copper.

Fire refining (blister copper-anode copper): the blister copper is further removed from impurity elements through oxidation and slagging to produce anode copper.

Electrolytic refining (anode copper-cathode copper): through the introduction of direct current, the anode copper is dissolved, pure copper is precipitated at the cathode, and the impurities enter the anode mud or electrolyte, thereby achieving the separation of copper and impurities, and producing cathode copper.

Copper Electrolysis Machine

2. Hydrometallurgy (SX-EW method)

Hydrometallurgy accounts for 10% to 20% of copper production. It is a method of leaching copper ore or copper concentrate with a solvent to make copper enter the solution, and then recovering copper from the copper-containing solution after purification treatment. Mainly used to process low-grade copper ore, copper oxide ore and some complex copper ore.

Hydro copper smelting equipment is simpler. It is produced near the mine and has low production costs. It does not produce sulfuric acid and has no SO2 pollution. However, the impurity content is high, and the copper smelting cycle is long, the efficiency is low, and the production capacity is small; the recovery of precious metals is difficult, and the recovery rate is uncertain; the wet process for processing chalcopyrite concentrate has not yet been industrially applied, and there are technical obstacles.

Although copper hydrometallurgy currently accounts for a small proportion of copper production, from the perspective of future resource development trends, with the gradual dilution of ore, the use of oxide ore, low-grade refractory ore and polymetallic complex copper ore is increasing. Copper hydrometallurgy will become an effective way to process these raw materials.

1. Hydrometallurgical process

The hydrometallurgical process mainly includes four steps: leaching, extraction, back extraction, and metal preparation (electrowinning or replacement). Oxidized ore can be leached directly, heap leaching is used for low-grade oxidized ore, and Cao leaching is used for rich ore. Under normal circumstances, sulfide ore needs to be roasted and then leached, or it can be leached directly under high pressure. Commonly used solvents in the leaching process include sulfuric acid, ammonia, and ferric sulfate solution.

3. Prospects of copper smelting methods

The development trend of copper smelting in the world The development trend of copper smelting can be summarized as follows:

(1) Due to the nature of copper ore, in order to recover the silver and sulfur contained in it, pyrometallurgical copper still occupies a dominant position, but the proportion of hydrometallurgical copper will increase.

(2) The copper plant will work without pollution, the sulfur dioxide emission concentration will be below 300ppm, and the actual sulfur recovery rate will reach 95% to 99%. There is no discharge of waste water and residue.

(3) Pyrometallurgical copper smelting will basically be self-heating smelting.

(4) Continuous blowing of copper matte will be more widely used.

(5) Low-grade mines will be utilized by hydrometallurgy. The leaching and extraction efficiency in hydrometallurgy will be further improved.

(6) Computer online control will be the main production control method.

(7) The scale of the factory will be larger, each process will be a single furnace production, and the operation work will be reduced even more.

With stringent environmental protection policies and increased production costs, from a global perspective, small smelters with high costs and backward technology will be closed one after another, and large and medium smelters will further expand their production scale and reduce costs. Through technological upgrading and transformation, further improving the utilization rate of raw materials, and maximizing the recovery of valuable elements in waste residue, waste water and waste gas in the smelting process will be the most important means of reducing costs.

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