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RECUPERACIÓN DEL TELURO DEL AGUA MADRE EN LA REFINERÍA DE COBRE

Por: Ing. Juan Rafael Beltrán Postigo, refinería de cobre de Ilo, Southern Peru.

Abstract

As a by-product of the copper electrolytic refining process, anode slimes are obtained with a high copper content (>30%). These slimes are leached with the purpose of lowering the copper content to less than 2% for subsequent treatment at the precious metal plant, where gold, silver and selenium are recovered.

The leaching solution (mother liquor), contains various elements such as: arsenic, antimony, bismuth, selenium and tellurium; our objective is to recover the tellurium from the mother liquor solution, as this is currently discarded for SX/EW. 

Laboratory and industrial tests were conducted for this recovery. In the copper refining process at the Ilo refinery, this element is considered a major impurity, mainly due to the potential risk of contamination of the circuit, which could impair the chemical and physical quality of the cathode deposit when not properly handled.

The tests performed are based on the cementation method, allowing tellurium to be extracted in a separate and marketable form.

The solution to be processed (mother liquor) is loaded in a reactor, which is heated by direct application of steam, thus increasing the temperature and agitation of the solution. The reducing material used is cathode copper, in the form of hollow sheets, remnants and nodules. The average process time is 24 hours. Continuous monitoring and analysis is performed.   

In the tests performed in plant, an extraction of 24% Te is reached from the initial solution, having as operation parameters a temperature of 85 °C; the direct application of steam allows heating and agitation.  

The extraction of Tellurium through this method will allow giving more added value to the refinery's by-products.

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