Iran Zinc mines Development Company: Industry Overview and…


Iran Zinc Mines Development Company: Industry Overview and R&D Center Research Activities
A. Rashtchi*, D. Moradkhani** and H.A. Ghanbari
*Mineral Processing Leadership, **Managing Director R&D Center, Iran Zinc Mines Development Company Associated Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Zanjan University

ABSTRACT: Ever since the establishment of Iran Zinc Mines Development Company in 1996, it has played a significant role in promoting positive potentials for the Zinc metal industry in Iran. For the reason that the Angouran ore has a distinct nature, and as one of largest nonsolfide reserve in the world, any other contemporary techniques failed to process the suitable minerals efficiently. Research and development center in IZMDC pursues efficient and feasible approach to the processing and recovering the Zinc and Lead minerals. Main purposes of these studies are to increase the recovery of Zinc metal in refineries and moreover to undertake new methods and techniques. These studies categorized as: Conventional methods of mineral processing, Modern techniques such as SX and recovering the residuals in tailing and very low grade ore.

1. BRIEF BACKGROUND 1.1 Company Ever since the establishment of Iran Zinc Mines Development Company in 1996, it has played a significant role in promoting positive potentials for the Zinc metal industry in Iran. Company's contribution to Iran's overall Zinc and Lead metal production constitutes 85% and 95% respectively. This make company largest producer of zinc in Middle East. Subsidiaries of IZMDC consist of largest Iran lead and zinc mineral processing plant (Calcimin Co.) in Dandi Zanjan province and 100,000 ton capacity calcination plant in Zanjan (Zangan zinc industry Co.) and also seven zinc refinery plant as below: • • • • • • • 30,000tpy Bafgh Smelting Co. plant 20,000tpy Calcimin Co. Qeshm plant 12,000tpy Calcimin Co. Bandar Abbas plant 18,000tpy Calcimin Co. Dandi plant 12,000tpy Calcimin Co. Zanjan plant 15,000tpy National Iran Lead and zinc Co. plant

an intense intention to build a 100,000t capacity plant in cooperation of consortium Iranian and European companies, is in progress. This plant designed to recover 94% of zinc content of feed ore and 84% of lead. 1.2 Angouran Mine Angouran mine is the most important ore supply for Iran lead and zinc industry. More than 80% of zinc product in Iran is dependent to excavated ore from this mine that is mostly oxide ore. This mine cosidered as non sulphide lead and zinc reserve carrying >16 Mt 26% Zn and 4% Pb.Location of the deposit is about 120 Km NW Zanjan in Zagross montains. Ore body hosted by complex consists of marbels and schists overlayed by sedimentary and volcanic sequence. Complex ore body consisists of an oxid cap, underlyed by a mixed sulphid-oxid body, then downwarded into Zn-Pb sulphide ore (Approximate grade: Pb < 3%, Zn > 40%)The upper level of the ore body are dominated by smithsonite-rich ore. Other phases are composed of carbonated oreand supergen weatherd ore. In this phase minerals are Zn–rich clays, mimetite,smithsonite,hydroxy and oxide of Fe and Mn, calcite, hydrozicite and hemimorphite. Beneth of the ore body is limited to footwal schist; proximity to fottwall schist mixture of oxid and sulphide ore is present. Main

18,000tpy Faravary Mavad Maadani Co. plant In addition there is a 30,000t Lead smelting plant in National Lead and Zinc Co. site. There is

148  composition of sulphide-oxide ore are smithsonite,arsenopyrite, galena, pyrite and quartz (Approximate Grade: Pb > 5 , Zn > %33).

Mineral Processing Technology (MPT 2007)

Angouran Ore body

Sulfide Ore

Mix Ore

Carbonate Ore

Hard Carbonate

Brecciated Carbonate

Soft Carbonate

Very low Grade


Diagram 1: Ore Classification of angouran mine

Mineralized schist consists of smithsonite, cerussite and Clay mineral (Approximate Grade: Pb > %1, Zn < % 13). In regards to these data; Angouran ore could be categorized as shown in (Diagram 1). 2. INDUSTRY'S PROCESS 2.1 Mineral Processing There are 2 plant involving in concentration within company; Calcimin complex and Zangan Zinc Calcination plant. Due to distinct nature of Angouran mine ore, several methods are in use in order to consume the excavated ore. Most of the Pb low grade ore is used directly in refinery plants (Faravari Mavad Madani plant). Calcimin plant uses reverse flotation method to facilitate concentration of the zinc from accompanying lead and gangue minerals. This plant has a capacity of 25,000 tpy lead concentrate and 270,000 tpy zinc concenterate. Process in this plant is divided to two lines: low grade and high grade. High grade ore treatment begins by grinding the high grade crushed ore, which is transported via ropeway, with rodmill and ball mill.Lead concenterate is being concentrated by flotation process in a battery of rougher, scavenger and cleaner

flotation cells. The lead tailing after lead flotation consists of 33-40% Zn and 15-25% silica; which is treated az zinc concentrate. Recovery of lead concentrate is 75-85% with grade of 54-60% Pb. Both concentrates are dewatered in seperate thickners and filtered in vaccum filters, belt filters and filter press are used to reduce the moisture. The coars zinc concentrate from belt filter is sent to calcination plant for enrichment of zinc from 35 to 50-55% by heating it up to 800oC.The fine zinc concentrate from filter press is sent to zinc refinery plant in Zanjan and Dandi. The low grade ore which contains about 1522% zinc,is washed and subjected to heavy media seperation, after separating 0-2 mm materials. Heavy media enriches the material which leads to increase in zinc grad materials to 28-35% and afterward it is sent to plant for furthur treatment, while the tailing which contains 8-9% Zn tailed in the tailing dam in order to recycl the water. Zangan Zinc Calcination plant maintain heat treatment on carbonated ore with the purpose of increasing the grade. İn this plant after crushing and miling the ore which contains 22-30% Zn, direct heat calcination in furnace increases the concentrate grade to 27-40%. 2.2 Hydro Metallurgy Hydrometallurgy plants subordinated to IZMDC mainly utilizes three kinds of ore in the beginning of their process. Faravary Mavad Madani consumes raw ore material excavated from mine while other plants feed by raw or calcined concentrate obtained from Calcimine plant and Zangan Zinc Calcination plant. Process in these plants (Diagram 2) begins with leaching the feed by sulfuric acid then contamination is removed and filtered in order to purify the electrolyte. Electro winning procedure takes place in separate cells using Pb-Ag-Ca anodes and Aluminum cathodes. Produced zinc metal grad varies from 99.95 to 99.98. Only Bafgh smelting plant is capable of producing SHG 99.99 zinc ingot.

Iran Zinc mines Development Company: Industry Overview and…
Raw ore

149 Three major processes are designed and adopted to recover the named elements from residuals: 3.1 Recovery of Zn from Leach Filter Cake Recovering the Zn in the form of basic zinc sulfate is sugested in many industrial prescriptions.This process because of high amount of Cl and F in this residual , faces lots of difficulties. Most of the technical problomes in this area solved and also techniques are developed to produce thebasic zinc sulfate (BZS) with grade of 22% Zn. 3.2 Recovery of Zn, Ni and Cd from Leach Filter Cake As shown in (Diagram 3) this process begins with leaching and then each of elements is recovered by solvent extraction (SX) methods. İn this techinque residuals will be cobalt salt and some amount of zinc sulfate.
Residuals containing Co, Ni, Zn and Cd



Raw zinc Calcinat
Calcined Concenttrate Sulfuric Recycled

Additive Water

Leachin g
Additive Neutralizing


Residuals containing Co, Cd, Ni Recycled electrolytes



Zinc Metal

Diagram 2: Process in Hydrometallurgical plants

3. RESIDUALS AND TAILING Angouran mine ore contains variety of other elements which most of them are valuable to extract and also harmful to the environment (Table 1) if being released. Hence recovering some of these elements which are peresented mostly in taling and filter cake residuals is one of the key researchs being conducted in IZMDC.
Table 1: element in hydrometallurgical plant Residuals
Element Pb Zn Cd Ni Co Zn Ge In Residuals Leach filter cake Leach filter cake Purification filter cake Purification filter cake Purification filter cake Purification filter cake Purification filter cake Purification filter cake Abundance 8-25% 4-10% 11-17% 3-5% 1-2% Up to 40% Up to 1000ppm Up to 100ppm

Additives Water

Sulfuric Acid


Recycled Electrolyte

Cd Cementation SX first Stage Electrowinning Cd



SX Second Stage



Recycled Electrolyte

Diagram 3: Recovery of Ni, Cd and Zn

150  3.3 Recovery of Co and Zn Sulfate From Leach Filter Cake As shown in (Diagram 4) the beginig of this process is to leach the sediments of the last purification filter cakes. Produced zinc sulfate in this method is seperated by spray dryer and crystalizator.
Residuals containing Co, Ni, Zn and Cd

Mineral Processing Technology (MPT 2007)

installing new leaching, SX, EW, tailingsneutralisation and electrolyte-cooling circuits. The SX circuit used DEHPA diluted with kerosene as the organic phase and featured Bateman Reverse-Flow Mixer Settlers incorporating extraction, stripping, scrubbing and organic regeneration. Bateman Pulsed Columns were also used to test the SX unit operations. 5. CONCLUSIONS Research and development center in IZMDC pursues efficient and feasible approach to the processing and recovering the Zinc and Lead minerals. Main purposes of these studies are to increase the recovery of Zinc metal in refineries and moreover to undertake new methods and techniques. In revision of conventional methods, use of new agents and reagents are considered. Most of the designated researches due to optimization were conducted in grinding and milling process. Using the modern techniques is one of the challenges to survive in the competitive markets. Therefore with participation of world's forgoing companies, some recent advances in the field of solvent extraction were examined in laboratory and pilot scale. Several laboratory researches and semi-pilot experiences were related to recovering valuable elements from leach and hydrometallurgy plants filter cake and tailing. These include recovering of residual Zinc and Lead in mineral processing tailing and filter cakes. Also recovering the Cadmium and Nickel metals are secondary targets. REFERENCES
[1] Bateman, Co., Final Report on demonstration plant. Bateman Engineering (2001). [2] Gilg, HA., Allen C., Balassone G, Boni, M, Moore, F, Marble-hosted sulfide ores in the Angouran Zn-(Pb & Ag) deposit, NW Iran. Mineralium Deposita, Vol. 41, No. 1, May 2006. [3] Iran Zinc Mines Development Co., 2004-2005 Annual report, 2006, Iran Zinc Mines Development Co. Tehran. Iran.


Sulfuric Acid

Recycled Leaching

S Nitric Acid L
Sulfuric Acid

Sulfate solution

Decontamina tion solvent

Co oxide leaching

Crystallizator or spray dryer Zinc Sulfate Na ClO4 Co oxide And Hydorxid


Sulfate solution

Ni And Cd

Crystallizator or spray dryer

Co Oxid

Diagram 4: Recovery of Co and Zinc sulfate

4. FOREIGN CONSULTANT A demonstration plant, designed, constructed and operated by BATEMAN for the Iran Zinc Mines Development Corporation (IZMDC), confirmed the process route selected for the feasibility study on a proposed refinery for the Angouran Mine, which could produce 100 000 t/yr of zinc from an ore feed of 473 000 t/yr. The plant was located at IZMDC's research centre, about 20 km from Zanjan in North West Iran. The demonstration plant was constructed by modifying an existing hydrometallurgical plant, producing about 120 t/yr of zinc cathode. Modifications included

Iran Zinc mines Development Company: Industry Overview and…