Selective Removal of Arsenic from Copper Concentrates


To explore and develop improved electrochemically-controlled flotation techniques to separate arsenic bearing copper sulphides from copper and iron bearing sulphides in complex copper ores.

There is currently no widely accepted industrial process that specifically aims to separate copper and arsenic minerals by flotation. Arsenic bearing minerals such as enargite (Cu3AsS4) are a rich source of copper. Enargite contains 48 wt% of copper, compared to chalcopyrite (CuFS2) which contains 34 wt% copper. In addition, any separation of arsenic bearing minerals from copper ones will result in some copper non-arsenic bearing species reporting to the high arsenic concentrate.

There is therefore a need for a more innovative process that would produce the following:

  • A low arsenic concentrate that can be smelted without incurring penalties.
  • A high arsenic concentrate that can be further treated to extract the remaining copper content.

Prior research conducted by CSIRO, University of South Australia and SMI-JKMRC has resulted in a proposed flotation circuit for achieving separation of low and high arsenic copper bearing minerals by flotation. The availability of an appropriate test case with an Industry Partner presents a good opportunity to potentially combine flotation pre-concentration techniques developed in this prior research, to result in an efficient process for both copper extraction and arsenic sequestration.




Industry-sponsored case studies