Pressure leaching of copper concentrates at Morenci, Arizona – 10 years of experience
Minerals & Metallurgical Processing
, 2018, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 109-116
Green, C.; Robertson, J.; Marsden, J.O.
?In 2003, a high-temperature pressure leaching circuit to treat copper sulfide concentrates was commissioned at the copper/molybdenum operation at Bagdad, AZ. In late 2007, a medium-temperature pressure leaching circuit was commissioned at the Morenci mine in Arizona. The Morenci circuit was shut down in mid-2008, following a fire in the autoclave circuit. The onset of the global financial crisis in late 2008 resulted in significant changes to the operating profile in the Southwestern United States with respect to concentrates production, concentrates treatment, acid production and acid consumption. As a result of these changes, the Morenci concentrator was shut down, and the pressure leaching circuit remained offline. In late 2014, the increasing acid requirements in the Southwestern United States prompted a reevaluation of the Morenci concentrate leaching facilities. As a result, the pressure leaching circuit was restarted in high-temperature (200 °C) mode in May 2015 and has operated successfully for three years since recommissioning. This paper describes the current pressure leaching circuit configuration and the factors leading to the successful application of copper sulfide concentrate leaching at this location.