The Bureau of Mines recently investigated a hydrometallurgical procedure to recover gold, silver, and byproduct lead from a complex lead-zinc sulfide ore. A ferric chloride (Fecl3) preleach, at 40°C for six hours extracted about 50 percent of the zinc and formed insoluble silver and lead chlorides. Subsequent acid thiourea leaching, for one to three hours at 40°C, extracted about 85% of the gold and silver. Lead chloride was solubilized from the remaining residue with NaCl brine solution at 55°C in one hour. Lead was recovered from the brine solution in an electrolytic cell with an anion perm selective membrane at a current efficiency of 95 percent and current density of 100 A/m2. Spent FeCl3 leach solution was reoxidized in the anode compartment at a current efficiency between 75 and 95 percent.
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R.G. Sandberg and J.L. Huiatt are currently with the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, at the Salt Lake Research Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Editor’s Note: This article has been adapted from a full length research presentation at the TMS session “Innovation in Precious Metals Processes” at the 1986 Annual Meeting in New Orleans.
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Sandberg, R.G., Huiatt, J.L. Ferric Chloride, Thiourea and Brine Leach Recovery of Ag, Au and Pb from Complex Sulfides. JOM 38, 18–22 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03257810
- Leach Solution
- Brine Solution
- Pulp Density
- Cathode Compartment