, Volume 31, Issue 7, pp 23–28 | Cite as

Nitrile Metallurgical Process for Copper Concentrates

  • Edward P. Foster
  • David R. Taschler
  • Donald F. Lowe
Technical Article


Economic, regulatory, and sociological factors have spurred the search for a copper production technology capable of providing high-purity copper from a variety of sources with low-unit capital, energy, and labor costs while meeting increasingly stringent ecological requirements. Nitrile copper-refining chemistry can be combined with other production operations to address these needs. Roasting concentrates results in a leachable calcine and SO2 gas which is absorbed to make a sulfite liquor and a cleaned gas. The sulfite liquor and calcine leach liquor are mixed to yield precipitated copper sulfite. The sulfur is removed as gypsum. A cupricl acetonitrile liquor converts the solid copper sulfite to a cuprous/ nitrile liquor which is disproportionated to produce the recycled cupric/ acetonitrile liquor and a pure-copper metal product. The roast/ leach/sulfite/ nitrile copper concentrate process is estimated to require 55% less energy and 30% less capital than modern pyrometallurgical methods.


Sulfite Ethical Dilemma Copper Metal Leach Solution Engineering Ethic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    B. I. MacDonald, “Outlook for the Copper Industry—Not Bright,” Chemical Engineering Progress, Sept. 1978, pp. 84–87.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    “Crippled Copper Appears on Road to Better Health,” excerpts from a speech by G.B. Munroe, Chairman of Phelps Dodge, in American Metal Market, Jan. 17, 1979, p. 18 & 20.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    M.D. Rosenzweig, “Copper Makers Look to Sulfide Metallurgy,” Chemical Engineering, Jan. 5, 1976, pp. 79–81.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    C. Rampacek and J.T. Dunham, “Copper Ore Processing—U.S. Practices and Trends,” Mining Congress Journal, Feb. 1976, pp. 43–50.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    A.J. Parker et al., U.S. Patent 3,865,744.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    D.M. Muir and A.J. Parker, “Low-Energy Processes for the Production of Pure Copper from Crude Copper, Copper Sulphate and Chalcopyrite by use of Aqueous Acetonitrile,” pp. 191–195 in Advances in Extractive Metallurgy, Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, London, 1977.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    W.A. Griffith et al., “Development of the Roast-Leach-Electrowin Process for Lake-shore,” TMS-AIME paper A73-64, Sept. 1974.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    P.R. Haskett, B.J. Bauer, and R.E. Lindstrom, “Copper Recovery from Chalcopyrite by a Roast-Leach Procedure,” U.S. Bureau of Mines report TPR-67, March, 1973.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    M.B. Shirts, W.A. Bloom and M.D. McKinney, “Double Roast-Leach-Electrowinning Process for Chalcopyrite Concentrates,” U.S. Bureau of Mines Report of Investigations 7996, 1975.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Air Products internal information.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    J.D. Esdaile, U.S. Patent 3,494,764.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    S. Hori and T. Okabe, U.S. Patent 3,573,896.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ralph M. Parsons, private communication, March 23, 1976.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    H.M. Brenneke and D.S. Davies, et al., “The Nitric Sulfuric Leach Process for Recovery of Copper from Concentrate,” paper presented at AIME 107th Annual Meeting, Denver, Colo., Feb. 27, 1978.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    P.M.J. Gray, “A Cost Basis for Developing Primary Copper Production Processes,” pp. 147–151 in Advances in Extractive Metallurgy, London, 1977.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    “Iron Age 1977 Metal Industry Financial Analysis,” Iron Age, April 24, 1978, pp. 35–40.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    C.L. Kusik and C.B. Kenahan, “Energy Use Patterns for Metal Recycling,” U.S. Bureau of Mines, Dept. of Interior Information Circular 8781, 1978.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    J.M. Henderson, “Environmental Overkill and Natural Resource Impact,” paper presented at American Mining Conference Convention, Las Vegas, Nev., Oct. 7–10, 1974.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward P. Foster
    • 1
  • David R. Taschler
    • 1
  • Donald F. Lowe
    • 1
  1. 1.Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.Allentown

Personalised recommendations