The Intec Copper Process in British Columbia
CIM Vancouver 2002
John Moyes, David Sammut, Frank Houllis,
The Intec Copper Process is an internationally patented hydrometallurgical process for the extraction of pure copper and precious metals from sulfide concentrates. Developed and proven in Sydney, Australia at a cost of US$15m over the last ten years, the Intec Copper Process is now ready for commercial application.
The technology has several notable advantages over both smelting and other hydrometallurgical processes. Starting from a base of substantially lower capital and operating costs than any other conventional or developing process, the Intec Copper Process is economically viable at capacity levels as low as 15,000 tpa-Cu, and capable of accepting low grade and metallurgically complex concentrates. Precious metals are recovered within the Intec Copper Process circuit, and no re-treatment of the environmentally stable solid residues is required. Independent LCA analysis shows that the Intec Copper Process offers the lowest energy consumption of the hydrometallurgical technologies. The Intec Copper Process has no liquid emissions or production of noxious gases, and sulfur may be recovered from the residues in elemental form.
The metallurgical challenges for many British Columbian copper/gold mining companies to produce smelter-grade concentrates are significant. In addition, the requirement to transport British Columbian concentrates by various means and over long distances for conventional smelter/refinery treatment imposes significant off-site production costs. Therefore, in view of the competitive power costs available in British Columbia, the Intec Copper Process offers a significant opportunity to capture value at or near the mine site. In alliance with H.G. Engineering of Toronto, Ontario, Intec is therefore now examining project options within the province, with its presently preferred option to locate a 25,000 tpa plant at the former Island Copper mine site near Port Hardy.
Copper, Sulfide Concentrates, Port Hardy, Intec Copper Process, Precious metals, Hydrometallurgy