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ArticleName The practice of in-situ leaching of copper from the Gumeshevskoe deposit ores
DOI 10.17580/tsm.2019.05.03
ArticleAuthor Altushkin I. A., Levin V. V., Korol Yu. A., Karev B. V.

Russian Coppper Company, Ekaterinburg, Russia:

I. A. Altushkin, Chairman of the Board, e-mail:
V. V. Levin, President
Yu. A. Korol, Vice President for Production and Investment Control


Uralgidromed, Polevskoy, Russia:
B. V. Karev, Chief Geologist


Gumeshev deposit of oxidized copper ores is situated in the Polevskoy city area of the Sverdlovsk Region. The mine that was established around this deposit and that dates back 300 years has seen numerous shutdowns for technical, economic and political reasons. 1994 saw another period when the mine operations were suspended and the mine was flooded. When the mine water level rose, soluble copper, zinc and iron oxides found its way into the water ponds around the region. Dozens of similar properties situated in the Urals, Siberia and the Caucasus are facing similar issues. In order to prevent environmental threats, in 2004 Russian Copper Company resumed the extraction of non-ferrous metals at Gumeshev deposit through the application of in-situ sulfuric acid leaching. The basic process involves in-situ leaching of copper from oxidized cupriferous ores and the further extraction of copper from pregnant solutions, its re-extraction and electrowinning from concentrated electrolyte. The final product includes cathode copper. The first stage involves opening of the block by making drillholes and constructing piping systems for solutions and the acid, as well as underground solution collectors and other structures. The same stage sees the H2SO4 solutions added to the block. The second stage involves leaching. The solution that goes into leaching arrives from a solution treatment section with the residual copper concentration of 13–30 mg/l. As the third stage of the process, the block is final leached using minimum additions of sulfuric acid. After the second and third stage leaching the solutions go in a precipitation tank and then copper is extracted from them. Precipitation tanks have double-layer impervious membranes. After clarification pregnant solutions contain 0.2–5.0 g/l of copper and have the pH of 1.2–2.5. At the fourth stage the block is rinsed with water without acid for the purpose of its reclamation as per design. 33.9 th tons of copper was leached and extracted from the solution at Gumeshev deposit between 2005 and 2018. Thanks to the application of in-situ leaching the copper material base of the Urals region can be increased by 3.9 mln tons.

keywords Сopper, in-situ leaching, extraction, re-extraction, electrowinning, cathode copper, drillhole

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