. Recovery of Zinc and Lead from Complex Low-Grade Sulphide Concentrates by Acid Pressure Leaching
A process is described which permits the separate recovery of lead and zinc from complex low-grade sulphide concentrates such as are produced from the New Brunswick type of disseminated pyrite ores. This process calls for the preparation of a lead-zinc bulk concentrate from the original ore by flotation. The bulk concentrate is then oxidized under pressure in autoclaves in aqueous sulphuric acid solution, such as return electrolyte from zinc electrolysis. This yields a zinc s ulphate solution and a residue containing lead sulphate, unaltered pyrite and elemental sulphur generated during the oxidation. After the oxidation, the leach slurry is briefly heated to above the melting point of elemental sulphur and then cooled. Thus, pellets containing pyrite and elemental sulphur are formed, and they are separated from the lead s ulphate by screening and/or flotation. Laboratory tests have shown that about 95 per cent of the zinc and Iead can be separately recovered from complex bulk concentrates. Process possibilities are discussed.