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A posteriori analysis of analytical models for heap leaching

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2012, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 103-112

Mellado, M. E.; Galvez, E.D.; Cisternas, L.A.; Ordonez, J.


In this paper, we present an a posteriori validation of a heap leaching analytical model using sensitivity analysis. The model is suitable to represent the process of heap leaching of solid reactants from porous pellets and is based on a combination of the leaching kinetics at two levels: particle and heap. The validation is simple, and a sensitivity analysis can easily be performed. The simplicity of the analysis provides insight into the control and optimization of the heap leaching process without strong mathematical complexities. The model and the corresponding sensitivity analysis include the effects of heap height, particle sizes, flow rates and several operation-design variables. Using a case study, we discuss the importance of model validation based on sensitivity analysis. We also comment on several choices for optimizing the process. We had three goals in this work: a posteriori validation, highlighting the importance of model validation and providing insight into optimization choices. We can conclude that the model has good internal logic and there are no extra variables; i.e., all of the variables in the model are necessary.