Solution mining followed by solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) is one possible way to economically extract copper from ore bodies which cannot otherwise be profitably exploited. Published costs for the unit processes of SX and EW are out of date especially in view of the newer reagents now available and the newer circuit configurations. This paper updates the costs for SX-EW and also discusses some of the trade-offs which must be made when designing an SX-EW plant.
The pairing of the unit operations solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) is an accepted technology for the recovery of high quality copper and it has been used in combination with in situ leaching for copper recovery. The object of this paper is to present the capital and operating costs in 1985 U.S. dollars and other units for the unit operations of SX-EW only so that those companies contemplating the use of this technology for final copper recovery from in situ or solution mining leach liquors will have a good starting point for preliminary cost estimations. Some detailed costs for individual plants have been published but in most cases the information is not current. In addition, a complete survey of all operating plants has not been