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Effect of compaction on binder performance in copper heap leaching

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2010, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 8-16

Lewandowski, K.A.; Kawatra, S. Komar


Heap leaching efficiency is reduced by poor solution flow characteristics (channeling and ponding), which result from compaction and fines migration. Agglomeration of the ore can prevent compaction and immobilize fines, but copper leaching requires an acid-resistant binder to stabilize the agglomerates. Until now, there has not been a satisfactory way to evaluate whether a binder was effective, other than squeezing a handful to see if it “feels right.” Procedures have been developed to quantitatively determine whether a binder produces agglomerates that can withstand compaction in an acidic solution, and have identified several binders that will provide sufficiently compaction-resistant agglomerates for copper heap leaching.