Here is a link to a magnificent paper in the InfoMine library relevant to all metallurgists. The paper is called Technical Review – Copper Solvent Extraction in Hydrometallurgy. The author is Patrick Littlejohn, currently completing his master’s thesis in metallurgy at the University of British Columbia.

This paper discusses factors that must be considered in operating a copper SX-EW plant, the impact of various common impurities, as well as possible equipment setups and secondary processes that relate to copper SX-EW.

Patrick notes that approximately sixteen percent of refined copper production in 2006 was by SX-WE processes. He notes that it has become more popular as increasingly low grade and “dirty” concentrates have made smelting less attractive. He notes that SX-EW is used to produce cathode copper from a diverse range of liquors, from low tenor, low acid chalcocite heap leach stream to high tenor, high acid chalcopyrite pressure oxidations streams.

His paper goes on to examine in detail the implications of diverse chemicals and process equipment in the effective operation of such systems. For example, I learnt about mixer-settlers, pulsed columns, an molecular recognitions technology, non-dispersive solvent extraction, emulsion liquid membranes.

I can do no more than encourage you to go and read this paper, and admire the work of a young man about to enter the industry. And if you can get him to come and work for you—you will be well served.