Transactions of Nonferrous Metals Society of China
JOURNAL OF RAILWAY SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
|Vol. 18 No. 6 December 2008|
（1. Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College, London SW7 2AZ, UK;
2. Centre for Innovation in Carbon Capture and Storage (CICCS), University of Nottingham,
Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK）
Abstract:Extractive operations usually co-produce large quantities of unmarketable materials (mineral wastes), most of which are conventionally discarded to dumps (coarse material) and tailings ponds (fines). Escalating cost and regulation worldwide highlight an increasing need for reduction and re-use of such wastes. The present paper introduces a new integrated waste management scheme for solids and water. The scheme was exemplified by novel treatment of synthetic waste and process water linked to the biohydrometallurgical processing of metal sulphide flotation concentrates. Bioleaching of sulphide concentrate leads to two types of solid waste: a ferrihydrite/gypsum precipitate from neutralisation of the bioleach liquor and un-leached gangue. The paper indicates that, depending upon the minor components involved, the solid phases in admixture might be usefully distributed among three types of product: conventional underground backfill, cemented civil engineering backfill (particularly controlled low strength material or CLSM) and manufactured soil. It emphasizes CLSM containing simulated mineral waste, showing that such material can exhibit the required characteristics of strength, porosity and permeability. When toxic components, e.g., arsenic from refractory gold ore, are present, encapsulation will be required. Process water is typically recycled as far as possible, although any excess should be treated before re-use or discharge. The paper also highlights treatment by reverse osmosis (one of the few methods able to generally remove dissolved components), particularly showing that arsenic in oxidation state +6 can be readily removed for discharge (＜50×10−12 As), although additional ion exchange is needed for potable water (＜10×10−12 As).
Key words: cementation; waste processing; bioleaching; tailings; refractory gold; arsenic; controlled low strength materials; reverse osmosis