Authors: R. Dixon, R. Fester, C. Garcia, C. Contreras, F. Romero, I. Ewart
Cu2007: International Symposium on Electrowinning and Electrorefining, Incorporating the 37th Annual Hydrometallurgy Meeting
Copper SX/EW plants often bleed part of their electrowinning electrolyte to control impurities and maintain consistent cathode quality. Depending on the specific situation at each site, the bleed is either returned to raffinate, to an SX extraction stage, to an SX wash stage, or to the PLS pond, to avoid losing the copper in the bleed. This practice can have undesirable effects on the overall process. An alternative is to electrowin all or most of the copper in the bleed, thus avoiding the recirculation of the copper in the bleed. In this manner, the bleed is converted to metallic copper without interfering with the SX circuit. This in turn reduces the copper concentration in the raffinate, improving global copper recovery because of improved leaching conditions.