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Bioleaching Technology and Process (8 replies and 4 comments)

12 months ago
David 12 months ago

The Company behind this bioleaching method and process no long exist but the technology still did work:
Before implementing a commercial-scale GEOCOAT® or GEOLEACH™ plant at Owner's site, batch amenability, small column, and large column testwork will be completed to determine the operational and cost benefits of the process for bioleaching the specific ore or concentrate. The testwork phases are then followed by preparation of a conceptual design package, capital and operating cost estimates, financial analyses, and detailed process design, operations planning, and commissioning and startup support.

As described in the testwork section, construction and operation of a large-scale demonstration heap is sometimes recommended to enable additional examination of process variables such as irrigation techniques, concentrate coating conditions, heap drainage design, and aeration system design. GeoBiotics is committed to close involvement in all stages of process development, implementation, and operation of its proprietary technologies.

GEOLEACH™ is a proprietary whole-ore heap bioleaching technology used to recover copper and other base metals from primary and secondary sulfide ores. Operation of a GEOLEACH™ heap is very similar to conventional whole ore acid heap leaching systems, but with the addition of a system to maintain biological activity and maximize heat conservation. GEOLEACH™ optimizes the sulfide leaching kinetics by maximizing and maintaining high temperatures within the heap.

GEOLEACH™ utilizes the latest in industry knowledge associated with acid leaching and bioleaching, and incorporates GeoBiotics' proprietary HotHeap™ technology. HotHeap™ is a process controls management system that allows aeration and irrigation rates to be varied to maintain elevated temperatures within the heap, which results in faster leaching rates and higher metal recoveries.

The GEOLEACH™ process is suitable for secondary, mixed, and primary copper and other base metal sulfide ores.
The advantages of GEOLEACH™ included:

Achieve increased metal recoveries without increasing operating cost
Economically treat low-grade ores allowing reduction in cut-off grade and an increase in ore reserves
Reduce power consumption compared to other oxidation methods
Reduce leach cycle time and inventory
Reduce acid consumption
Reduce water demand and consumption
Retrofit existing heap leaching operations with minimal capital investment
Cost-effectively treat low-grade chalcopyrite and other sulfide ores
GEOCOAT® offers a unique approach to bacterial leaching (also referred to as "biooxidation" or "bioleaching") by combining the low capital and operating costs of heap leaching with the high recoveries generally associated with other oxidation methods (roasting, pressure leaching, or stirred-tank biooxidation).

GEOCOAT® is applicable to treatment of refractory sulfide gold concentrates, and to copper, nickel, cobalt, zinc, and polymetallic base metal concentrates. The GEOCOAT® process is also applicable to the treatment of concentrates containing both gold and base metals.

GEOCOAT® is particularly suited to the treatment of "dirty" concentrates and low grade concentrates, which may attract high smelter penalties and/or low NSRs, or are unacceptable for smelting altogether.

GEOCOAT® has proven successful in treating high levels of arsenic in concentrates, converting it to an environmentally stable form of ferric arsenate, which meets stringent international standards for disposal.

The advantages of GEOCOAT® include:

Reduced capital costs – 50-70% lower than other oxidation processes
Reduced power consumption – requires only 15-20% of consumption of pressure oxidation or stirred tank oxidation
Ability to economically treat low-grade ores, allowing reduction in cut-off grade and increasing ore reserves
Conversion of arsenic to a non-leachable and environmentally stable form, suitable for tailings disposal and meeting stringent international standards
Simple flowsheet using well proven unit operations
High sulfide oxidation and gold recovery
Robust and flexible, tolerant of power outages, variations in sulfide content
Reduced water demand
Rapid engineering and construction
Simple to expand by increasing pad size and conveyor length
And final there was HotHeap:
HotHeap was a sophisticated, proprietary process control management system designed to optimize biooxidation conditions (temperature, pH, Eh, solution chemistry) through the control of irrigation and aeration rates. HotHeap control of irrigation and aeration in a GEOCOAT or GEOLEACH heap:

Maximizes heat accumulation within the heap
Minimizes the oxidation period
Maximizes the extent of sulfide oxidation
Maximizes the gold or base metals extraction

12 months ago
David 12 months ago

Q: How does the coating process work for GEOCOAT®?

A: The optimum method for coating concentrate onto the sized support rock depends on the size of the facility and client preference. Typically, the concentrate is coated by spraying a stream of the thickened concentrate slurry onto the support rock as it discharges from the stacker onto the heap. Other methods include a coating (mixing) box either at the end of the stacker (for low tonnages) or before the stacker (high tonnages), or an agglomeration drum. Binders or other additives are not required - the naturally hydrophobic nature of the sulfide minerals results in the formation of a thin, relatively uniform coating on the support rock particles.

Q: Does rainfall wash the coating off the support rock in GEOCOAT®?

A: No, even heavy rain does not wash off the concentrate. The concentrate on the upper surfaces of the heap surface is washed off the support and is trapped in the heap, but the lower surfaces are still coated. Short-duration precipitation events are comparable in intensity to routine solution application operations and have no adverse effects on the system. During periods of prolonged heavy rainfall, it may be necessary to stop the addition of fresh make-up water to the system to avoid undue dilution of the solution and possible overflows from the solution pond.

Depending on climatic conditions at the site, an emergency stormwater pond may be required to handle runoff resulting from storm events. A water balance based on site-specific meteorological data is prepared to determine the surge capacity required.

The water balance issues involved with a GEOCOAT® operation are the same as those that are routinely addressed in the design of heap operations for cyanide leaching of gold ores and acid leaching of copper ores. The principles are well understood, and based on meteorological data for the particular site, a solution management plan will ensure a safe and environmentally acceptable operation.

Q: Is the GEOCOAT® heap permeable to air and solution flows?

A: Yes. All fine material is screened from the support rock prior to coating. The concentrate coating adheres to the support, leaving open voids throughout the stacked material. These voids are up to an order of magnitude larger than those found in typical whole ore heaps, such as those used in cyanide heap leaching or secondary copper sulfide leaching. These large voids provide almost no resistance to solution and air flows through the heap. As evidenced by both laboratory columns and field heaps, solutions flow freely into the heap.

Q: How is the temperature in the heap controlled?

A: The oxidation of sulfide minerals produces heat, whether the reaction occurs in a roaster or in a biooxidation heap. Initially, this heat assists the biooxidation reactions in the heap by increasing the temperature into a range more favorable for the bacteria responsible for biooxidation. Beyond this point, however, the buildup of heat could become detrimental, necessitating the removal of the excess heat. GeoBiotics' HotHeap™ technology manages solution flow and aeration rates in the heap to maintain optimal temperature. Solution applied to the top of the heap instantly begins to percolate downward, flowing over the coated particles and reaching an equilibrium temperature within that portion of the heap. Upon reaching the bottom of the heap, this warm solution contacts the incoming air, and a portion of the solution evaporates into the air stream. This pre-heats and humidifies the air before the partially cooled solution exits the heap, carrying away still more heat. The partially humidified air rises through the open pores of the heap, driven by both the incoming air below and the thermal buoyancy of the warming air. The rising air stream cools the coated material still further, until the now-saturated air exits the top surface of the heap. The air injection rate is varied to maintain a target temperature in the core of the heap.

Q: How is the heap inoculated?

A: GEOCOAT® and GEOLEACH™ use mixed cultures of mesophilic, moderate, and thermophilic microorganisms to promote biooxidation. Starting with a small volume of culture from the laboratory testwork, the volume required for the heap is grown in a solution of nutrient salts, with periodic addition of small quantities of sulfide concentrate and elemental sulfur. The suspension is agitated and aerated. As the bacterial density increases, the inoculum is transferred to progressively larger vessels and diluted by adding nutrient medium. This process is repeated until the required volume of inoculum is obtained. The inoculum is added to the on-solution pond, which then is used to irrigate the heap.

Q: Is oxidation uniform throughout the heap?

A: The biooxidation of sulfide minerals converts metallic sulfides to soluble metal sulfates. Depending on mineral species involved, the reaction may produce or consume acid. Additionally, elemental sulfur may be produced as an intermediate product, which is subsequently further oxidized to sulfate by the bacteria. The rate of oxidation of the minerals may vary slightly in the initial stages of the biooxidation process, with some areas outpacing others. As these areas consume the sulfide minerals, they provide heat to neighboring particles and shed bacterial cells, which assist in the colonization of the remainder of the heap. After the initial stage of colonization with the onset of biooxidation, oxidation progresses at full rate. When sulfide minerals begin to be depleted, the areas which were slightly ahead of others slow down. By the completion of the scheduled treatment period, the entire heap has achieved the target degree of biooxidation.

Q: How is the solution composition controlled?

A: The heap is continuously irrigated with solution containing acid, ferric iron, nutrients and bacteria. The solution is collected as it drains from the heap and is recycled to the top of the heap via sprinklers or drip emitters. Depending on the mineralogy, a heap may be acid-consuming or acid-generating. For an acid-generating concentrate, the pH of the solution percolating through the heap will fall as it picks up acid from the oxidizing sulfide minerals. To maintain the pH in the optimum range for bacterial activity, and to purge iron from the system, a portion of the off-solution is bled to a neutralization system. Lime and/or ground limestone are added to neutralize acidity and precipitate metals, mainly iron. Addition of fresh water makes up the volume removed in the bleed stream. The sizing of the bleed stream and neutralization system are determined from the analyses of the concentrate and support rock, and from the results of the column tests.

Q: How is the progress of oxidation monitored?

A: Sampling of solids and solutions accurately track progress of biooxidation. Solution samples are taken to monitor temperature, pH, solution oxidation potential or Eh, and levels of solubilized iron and other metals. Solid samples are also taken using a vacuum system to remove samples from cased holes. The hole casing is driven downward as the solid sample is removed by the vacuum system, ensuring samples are withdrawn from undisturbed strata. Samples are analyzed for iron and other metals, sulfur compounds and gold. This sampling system provides data based on residue analyses from distinct locations within the heap, allowing comparison of actual progress of the heap to testwork predictions of performance.

Q: What instrumentation is installed to measure heap performance?

A: Several types of instrumentation aid in obtaining data relating to physical and chemical conditions within the heap during operation. During heap construction, thermocouples are placed within the coated and stacked material. These thermocouple arrays provide temperature data from specific locations within the heap, and are used for monitoring conditions during biooxidation and controlling temperatures. GeoBiotics has developed a unique instrumentation and control package under the brand HotHeap™. The equipment provides for the monitoring and control of irrigation and aeration rates in response to oxygen and cooling demands of the heap.

11 months ago

do you know references in the world for copper concentrate bioleaching

11 months ago

What do you mean by references?

11 months ago

Commercial installed plant which produce cathodic copper from copper concentrate

12 months ago
David 12 months ago

Here is a group of related articles:


11 months ago
David 11 months ago

A commercial GEOCOAT plant was built at the Agnes gold mine In South Africa in 2003.

In Australia, GBS Gold has entered into a License Agreement with GeoBiotics for the use of the GEOCOAT refractory ore treatment process at its Union Reefs operations centre in Northern Territory to treat refractory concentrate. GeoBiotics and GBS completed a basic engineering design for this project. Numerous additional GEOCOAT test programs are on-going on gold and polymetallic projects in around the world.

With respect to copper and other base metals, GeoBiotics has developed two treatment options depending on whether the project involves the treatment of concentrates or ore. A demonstration plant is currently under construction for Mineraçâo Caraíba at its copper operation in Brazil using the GEOCOAT technology for the treatment of copper (chalcopyrite) concentrates. This 50 m by 40 m GEOCOAT field demonstration heap commissioned in August 2008.

For the leaching of whole ores GeoBiotics has developed the GEOLEACH bio-heap leaching process for sulphide ores which, for modest capital expenditure, will enable existing acid leaching of sulphide ores, significantly increasing copper recovery and reducing leach time on the pad. A GEOLEACH demonstration plant is currently in final design for Quebrada.

Blanca copper mine in Chile. Construction and commissioning of this plant would start at the end of this year, with full operation anticipated during 2009.

11 months ago
9 months ago
Unterstarm 9 months ago

Hey guys, I do bacterial leaching of copper from waste dumps. Under what conditions can the iron to precipitate? For example: in the beginning of the solution - pH - 1.82; Eh - 730 mV; Fe (III) - 5.5 g / l; Fe(II) - 2.0. After 4 hours Fe(III) - 3,5; Fe(II) - 0.0. pH - 1,36 Eh - 780 mV; In the form of iron which precipitates and why?

Victor Bergman
9 months ago
Victor Bergman 9 months ago

The Iron can to precipitate than Fe(OH)3 tp pH >3,5

9 months ago
Gruppen 9 months ago

I know that, but the concentration of iron in the solution falls to the same I see the resulting precipitate with each passing day more and more of his and as a result exit of the solid is increased by 20%

Ace Levy
9 months ago
Ace Levy 9 months ago

Maybe you are forming some Jarosite. This can happen in the pH range of 1.0 to 3.0 but normally the Fe concentration has to be higher for this.

Paul Morrow
9 months ago
Paul Morrow 9 months ago

Is possible than into the four hours of process, there was not necessary sulphuric acid in the leaching solution. This made to increase the pH, so the iron precipitated in form of Jarosite.

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