Arizona Mine, USA

BioteQ operates a plant in the southern US in joint venture with a large US-based mining company, treating drainage from a large low-grade stockpile at an inactive mine site to recover dissolved copper and produce treated effluent for re-use at the site. BioteQ provided process design, plant supply and construction, commissioning and ongoing operating services for the project.

Leach solution draining from the stockpile passes to the BioSulphide® Plant where copper is precipitated into a high-grade copper sulphide concentrate typically containing 40% copper which is sold and refined into useful products. The treated water is recycled back onto the stockpile to continually recover additional copper.

The plant has been operating since 2004, harnessing BioteQ’s BioSulphide® process, which uses an anaerobic bioreactor to biologically generate hydrogen sulphide gas (H2S) on demand. The H2S is used in the water treatment process as a sulphide source. The plant has a treatment capacity of 500 m3/h, and the bioreactor can produce up to 3.8 tonnes per day of sulphide.

The plant operates as a “profit center” for the joint venture partners, with shared revenues and costs. BioteQ operates the plant on behalf of the joint venture.

Project Benefits

The application of BioteQ’s technology at this site provides economic benefit from copper recovery as well as long term potential environmental benefits. The plant:

  • Recovers saleable copper from stockpiles at the site.
  • Eliminates the production of metal contaminated sludge.
  • Removes copper from the site, and thereby reduces environmental liability.
  • Complies with strict environmental and safety regulations.
  • Lowers the life cycle cost for site water management by generating a revenue stream that pays for the operating costs.

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