Mining and metallurgical wastes
A lot of the base metal and significant amounts of other elements remain in waste after metal extraction by traditional methods.
For example, copper production in Chile reached 6 million tonnes in 2009. Around 5% of copper remains in the waste ore or tailings. The recovery of 90% of copper from tailings could produce up to 270,000 t/ year in the value of $2.7 billion.
Metal extraction from non-conventional ores
The existing technologies are often able to process only one type of ores or minerals. For example, molybdenum is currently extracted from sulphides only, while oxides remain in tailings.
Typically molybdenum content in the ores is ~0.04%. The metal extraction rate is ~70 %. The ion exchange would enable to recover more than 90% of molybdenum from the residual oxides.
Extraction of accompanying elements
Metal ores are often complex deposits. For example, the copper leach liquor may contain other base and rare metals such as cobalt, nickel, molybdenum, scandium, rhenium. Concentration of these elements may not be sufficient for their extraction by traditional methods. Ion exchange enables the extraction of the accompanying elements and may add from 10 to 30% to the plant revenue.
Control of impurities in SX/EW process
In the process of copper production by solvent extraction (SX) and electrowinning (EW) some impurities can accumulate in leaching and re-extraction circuits. Such impurities may deteriorate the efficiency of the process and quality of the final product. InnovEco can use ion exchange technology for impurities control. It may significantly increase the efficiency of leaching, extraction and electrowinning processes. Also this solution can recover some accompanying elements (i.e. cobalt).