You are on page 1of 8

Simulation technology to support base metal ore heap leaching

C. R. Bennett*1, D. McBride1, M. Cross1, J. E. Gebhardt2 and D. A. Taylor2
A simulation framework is outlined for the analysis of the operation of both the heap and the associated water balance circuit for the leaching of primary metal ores. The heap simulation is based on a detailed computational model of the leaching process. The process chemistry, including reactants in the gas–liquid–solid matrix, gas flow, variably saturated liquid flow, species transport in both phases, heat transport, and biomass growth and catalysis, is accounted for in models that are equally applicable to simple and complex geometries. The leaching models are contained within the PHYSICA computational modelling environment that includes a powerful multiphase computational fluid dynamic (CFD) solver enabling reactive flow simulation through arbitrarily complex geometries. Tools have been developed in one-, two- and three-dimensions to capture a variety of aspects of the leaching process behaviour. By careful choice of tools, the framework can be applied to a wide range of leaching problems from small scale (e.g. analysis of column tests and drip emitter spacing) through to full scale heap simulation. An optimised version of the heap leach model is itself embedded within a simulation environment that exploits the BILCO mass balance software to enable dynamic simulation of the water balance within the whole plant circuit.
Keywords: Leaching, Bioleaching, Numerical modelling, Reactive transport

Published by Maney Publishing (c) IOM Communications Ltd

Hydrometallurgical problems, such as stockpile leaching for metal recovery (Bartlett, 1998; Davenport et al., 2002), provide considerable challenges in the development of effective computational models owing to the wide range of physical and chemical phenomena present. These phenomena include a series of interacting physicochemical processes, including the transport of raffinate and air through the porous stockpile, a sequence of highly interdependent gas–liquid–solid reactions, including the impact of a bacterial population as a catalyst of the reaction sequence, and the generation and transport of thermal energy. In addition, there are considerable challenges in capturing and managing the data from the plant to parameterise the simulation and the simulation itself, which provides large amounts of detailed information throughout the heap and its lifetime. Typically, such problems concern large heaps (generally with a width and depth of hundreds of metres) of low grade ore reacting over timescales that may be measured in months to years. This means that it is very difficult to evaluate the impact of process design and
1 2

School of Engineering, University of Wales Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, Wales, UK Process Engineering Resources, Inc., 1945 S 1100 E Ste 100, Salt Lake City, UT 84106, USA *Corresponding author, email

control systems on the operation of the heap in a reliable fashion. As such, a variety of tools are required to support process engineers in the optimal design and operation of stockpile leaching operations with respect to both overall recovery and efficiency. Unsurprisingly, there has been an enduring interest for over 25 years in the development of mathematical models of stockpile leaching processes to provide effective engineering management tools. For example, in the context of copper heap leaching, Wadsworth and co-workers (Braun et al., 1974; Madsen and Wadsworth, 1981) have played a major role in developing the concept of the shrinking core model (Szekely et al., 1976) to characterise the set of chemical reactions that comprise the main phenomena involved. This pioneering work was then utilised first by Cathles and Apps (1975) and Cathles and Schlitt (1980), and then by Paul et al. (1992a, b) to develop models of copper sulphide heap leaching. More recently, Casas et al. (1993, 1998) have developed a two-dimensional model of the process involving an explicit representation of the biological effects. Although the researchers of these models recognized all the phenomena that must be represented to characterise leaching effectively, a combination of limitations in numerical algorithms and computer technology forced a variety of simplifications to enable numerical solutions in practical simulation times. The multiphase transport phenomena represent a significant challenge in the modelling of stockpile leaching processes, and Ritchie and co-workers have

ß 2006 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and The AusIMM Published by Maney on behalf of the Institute and The AusIMM Received 10 November 2005; accepted 13 December 2005 DOI 10.1179/174328506X91347

Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy (Trans. Inst. Min. Metall. C)







component transport and thermal processes using the CFX CFD software technology (www. gangue reactions. (2003. 2005) have developed models of chalcocite leaching processes involving unsaturated flow. oxygen and water vapour (evaporation/condensation) (iv) bacterial catalysis of chemical reactions.Bennett et al. 1993a. it provides the user with opportunities to specify simulation scenarios. FEMGV (www. Metall. but the full 3D simulations (although this is currently under development). and usability. Simulation technology to support base metal ore heap leaching Published by Maney Publishing (c) IOM Communications Ltd made a significant contribution to this problem using commercial computational fluid dynamic (CFD) technologies (Davis and including the dissolution of primary minerals of interest. e. 1992. as a basis for process design and optimisation. regeneration of reagents within the liquid phase. the flow module of the PHYSICA multiphysics simulation are employed (www. Anne and Pantelis. Bouffard and Dixon (2003) described work on refractory gold ores. death and transport. this generates a variety of scripts dynamically to call the mesh generation. While these and others have made important contributions to heap leach modelling. contour plots showing remaining minerals and solution inventory in space and in time. and Dixon (2003) and Dixon and Petersen (2003) examined chalcocite based ores. external weather effects. including bacterial population growth. Pantelis and Ritchie. The simulation tools currently consist of the following: (i) a 1D simulation of laboratory columns. The objectives of the work reported here include the development of a suite of simulation tools to support the comprehensive computational modelling and process analysis of heap leach systems. 1986. including dealing with variably saturated flow through heterogeneous media (ii) gas flow and species transport through heterogeneous media with varying saturation levels (iii) chemical reactions within and between mass transfer between the gas liquid and solid phases. covering a suitable user interface for data input. 2004. Leahy et al. This environment is based on four main software tools: (i) a CFD simulation software tool – in this case. Inst. Importantly.processeng. Dixon and co-workers have also made significant contributions to full process models with simplified fluid mechanics. structuring and storage in a database. In the present paper. simulation set-up. and data output in the form of: plots of species output in the pregnant leach solution recovered from the modelled system.physica. Recently.ansys. a simulation environment is outlined to address all the above issues in a coherent fashion and in particular. this is a key tool both with respect to parameterising a specific ore with respect to reaction rates. and also as a vehicle for validation 42 Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy (Trans. mesh generation and results visualisation tools – in this work. Aside from using models to assess the impact of the generation and transport of heat in heap leach operations (Dixon and Hendrix. management and results analysis – this is achieved here in the HeapNET environment (www. The user is only aware of using the HeapNET user environment. andmultiple bacteria types for catalysis of different chemistry and potentially for different temperature regimes (v) heat transport. b. and animations showing system behaviour over and heat transport by movement of gas and liquid phases (vi) modelling of the water balance in natural environments with high and variable precipitation to ensure the efficacy of the arrangements made to cope with extreme weather and operational events (vii) data input and output. Min. com). C) 2006 VOL 115 NO 1 . the complexity of the process and the resulting mathematical model formulations have so far resulted in limited success in the development and application of fully comprehensive simulation which itself is built within Visual Studio. data management including management of past simulations. 1 Overview of HeapNET heap leach simulation technology Heap leach simulation tool set The main tools and component models contained within a simulation environment for the comprehensive modelling and analysis of heap leaching systems are as follows: (i) liquid flow and species transport. including heat from chemical reactions. A representation of the heap leaching simulation technology is shown in Fig. Dixon 2000). HeapNET manages all the communication with the other tools used within the environment. visualisation and solver tools to build. 1997). precipitation reactions. chemical (ii) a CFD modelling support environment to provide geometry definition. run and explore the results of a simulation series for all applications. partitioning of species between liquid and gas phases. to manage the raw data and information associated with all aspects of the process relevant to its analysis.NET using SQL as the core database technology and employing Excel as a results analysis tool. to control which simulation results are saved and then to dialogue with the visualisation tool to obtain the graphical plots (and movies) A user environment to encapsulate the information required for data rationalisation. has been used (iii) an interactive simulation toolkit for resolving mass and material balances in complex flow sheets – the tool used here is Bilco (www. plots of mineral reactions and reagent use against time. 1.

These phenomena are best modelled these days by CFD simulation tools that facilitate the modelling of flow based transport processes. the heat transport. but also enable the evaluation of a number of future operational strategies for the most beneficial options with respect to a number of possibly conflicting criteria. There are no substantial thermal effects and owing to the low oxygen requirements. The representation of the component phenomena comprising the phenomenological physical model and the approach to their solution is briefly summarised in the following sections. be modelled through appropriate use of heterogeneity. the system is not dependent on gas flow. where K is the hydraulic conductivity Lh LK (h) ~+K (h)+hz (1) Lt Lz there are a number of potential models to use to describe Underlying computational modelling approach The computational modelling approach requires the solution of coupled liquid and gas flows through porous media. (2005a.4 h of simulation for each month’s worth of operational time. b). which employs state of the art finite volume methods on an unstructured mesh in one-. C) 2006 VOL 115 NO 1 43 . Obviously. the principal reactions are cyanide with gold. In this case. Metall. leaching is highly dependent on bacterial activity to catalyse the dissolution of copper through the generation of ferric (Fe3z). a comprehensive model will depend on all of the above tools as oxygen and. which is not typical for these kinds of problems addressed here. there are more detailed discussions of the model formulations and solution strategies described in Bennett et al. Compaction can.2 min of elapsed time on a current generation PC (ii) a 2D slice simulation involving three lifts over 450 days operation could take on the order of an hour with the same PC (iii) the water balance model with the reduced dimension simplified heap leach model would take about a minute for a day’s worth of operation (iv) the full 3D model with . Heaps may internally be made up of different ores leading to considerable heterogeneity. such as 100 year weather events and/or drain down owing to operational malfunction. are of crucial importance. here the focus of the tool is on the evaluation of the solution distribution not only through the heap. therefore gas flow. Decrepitation would only be an issue where large proportions of the solid phase are soluble. moisture content h and the pressure head h. compaction. not only does this enable an ongoing audit of performance of a heap and accurate prediction of its future performance. from ferrous ions (Fe2z) and oxygen.150 day operation require . Many of the reactions are exothermic and thermal effects can be significant. (2003a. In the case of copper sulphide ore. However. Simulation technology to support base metal ore heap leaching Published by Maney Publishing (c) IOM Communications Ltd (ii) a 2D slice simulation of full heaps. b).uk). The mixed form of the Richards’ equation is written in terms of two unknown variables. Precipitation is easily modelled and fines can be dealt with through the use of appropriate rules. clay). Cross et al. leading to widely varying flow conditions and therefore levels of saturation. which is the dominant reagent. Other phenomena that can influence flow conditions include decrepitation of the substrate. Scenarios. particularly to examine the impact of operational strategies on pond volumes against available capacity. but also in the complete circuit. are of special interest to process operations (iv) a full 3D model of the heap which captures the full behaviour over its lifetime. Min. reactions between the phases and with the host solid media. their use is influenced by both the volume of data that they produce versus that which is required for a specific purpose and the time taken for the computations.and three-dimensions and has the added benefit of running scalably in parallel should simulation run times become significant (www. 2 Heap leach model computational generic macrosolution procedure In the case of gold heap leaching by cyanide. silver. gas flow and bacteria tools are not required for an adequate gold heap model. precipitation of salts from the liquid phase and transport of fines (e. The approach adopted here exploits the CFD module within the multiphysics modelling software environment PHYSICA.physica. Variably saturated liquid flow Heaps under leach are subject to an application of a solution of reactants and occasional rain events. to a certain extent. and the emerging thermal distributions (iii) the water balance model that contains a reduced 3D model of the heap.g. Each of the above tools has a specific role. Inst. resulting in the exchange of mass and the generation or loss of heat. two.250 K cells takes . particularly the coupling between the liquid and gas flows. this is where a vertical plane through the heap using depth averaged properties is used to examine a variety of phenomena. Figure 2 illustrates the generic macrosolution procedure for the heap leach model. Typically: (i) the 1D simulation of laboratory column experiments involving a .Bennett et al. Flow through variably saturated porous media is typically characterised by the Richards’ In this case. copper and gangue minerals. Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy (Trans. (2005) and McBride et al.

A computational procedure based on an extension of the above method into a fully unstructured context has been implemented for modelling variably saturated flow in leach systems with variable material properties and arbitrarily complex three-dimensional geometries by McBride et al. both being heavily dependent on the particle diameter. then solved for each mineral across a set of size fractions. The equation used to calculate the rate of dissolution of a particular mineral is 44 Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy (Trans. (2005b). liquid and gas fractions present in each element.Bennett et al. Sg a source term for gas and vg the gas velocity. There is essentially a one way coupling between liquid and gas phase flow (with liquid flow influencing gas flow but not the reverse) through the alteration of the voidage owing to changing moisture levels. Metall. incorporating heat of reaction. (1990) combined with a transformation and proposed by Pan and Wierenga (1995) has been shown to have the potential to be a fast. Heat energy generated (or lost) from all of the implemented chemical reactions is then converted into a temperature rise. Heat balance Factors affecting heat balance in the heap are heat generated by chemical reactions. water vapour. may also be of interest. external temperature and solar radiation. The production and consumption of species is given by the reaction module and enters the transport equation as a source term S. and forms the basis of the liquid flow scheme for the heap leach models used in the present work. A single ‘mixture’ temperature is calculated for the whole system with properties dependent on average thermal properties based on the solid. Oxygen mainly enters the heap through Chemical reactions Mineral reactions are solved by dividing the ore into discrete size fractions with characteristic radii and mineral concentrations. Dij is the dispersion coefficient that only becomes significant in fully saturated flows. a gas transport model will be crucial. Modelling this type of flow has presented something of a challenge to the computational community. numerically robust scheme. The heat balance in the heap can be solved using the temperature conservation equation À Á À Á L rcp T (8) zdiv rucp T ~div½K +ðT ފzST Lt where cp is the specific heat. The transport algorithm is coupled with the flow module through the moisture content h and Darcy flux Published by Maney Publishing (c) IOM Communications Ltd qxi ~{k(h) L(hzz) Lxi with kin is the intrinsic permeability of the porous media. Min. such as many copper ores and pyrite containing ores. the gas source term combines the effects of thermal gradients. Various versions of the classical Richards equation have been proposed in the past and used to provide the basis of specific numerical solution procedures. the mass of gas displaced by any change in volume in the element owing to a change in liquid phase saturation. Gas phase transport Oxygen can be important in any system containing significant sulphurous minerals. eg is the volume fraction of the gas phase. C) 2006 VOL 115 NO 1 . The continuity equation for convective–dispersive transport of multiple solutes in porous media is given by L(hC i ) (4) {+(hD+C i )z+(qC i )~S i Lt where Ci is the concentration of species i in the solution phase and Si the production or consumption of species i. boundary conditions. The equation for solute transport through porous materials has been described by Bear (1972). the heat of liquid and gas entering the heap. Air flow will also influence the heat balance. Air flow within the heap is subject to the same range of heterogeneous flow conditions as the liquid phase but in addition. The basic continuity equation for gas phase flow is À Á Lrg zdiv rg vg ~Sg (5) Lt where rg is the gas density. Saturated and unsaturated flows have individually been well described but systems containing both saturated and unsaturated regions offer considerable problems. controlled by condensation and evaporation. An equation of the same form as equation (4) is used to transport the species in the gas phase. where the moisture h and hydraulic conductivity K are defined by ( hsat {hres h v0 : hres z ð1 m zjahjn Þ (2) h~ h ¢0 hsat K~  Ksat h{hres hsat {hres 1=2 ( h{hres 1{ 1{ hsat {hres "  1=m #m )2 (3) air injection or air convection via its exposed slopes. The model most commonly employed by the hydrology community and used within in the present work is that of van Genuchten (1980). r the density. Simulation technology to support base metal ore heap leaching the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity. mg is the gas viscosity and kg(S) is the unsaturated permeability of the gas at liquid saturation (S). u the velocity vector. In these leach environments where oxygen is an important reagent. evaporation and condensation. T the temperature and ST any heat source. given by vg ~{ Á kin kg (S) À g +p zrg g+z eg mg (6) where a and n are material parameters that affect the shape of the soil hydraulic functions and m5121/n. Solid reaction kinetics are modelled using a shrinking core reaction to link pore diffusion and rate kinetics. A method originally suggested by Celia et al. Inst. related to the liquid unsaturated permeability kl(S) by kg (S )~1{kl (S) (7) where z is the elevation head. must respond to liquid flow and saturation. evaporation and condensation. and mass transfer between gas and liquid phases. and evaporation and condensation. Although the primary species transported via gas flow is oxygen. K the thermal conductivity. raffinate and gas temperature. and weather effects.

the main emphasis is on validating the chemical components of the model. (1991) and developed by Petersen and Dixon (2003).8. Deff the effective rock diffusion coefficient. and A and B are functions of the individual kinetic rate equation. bacteria are modelled as generic ferrous or sulphur oxidisers. (2005). Data input and output.5 m high to 2 m in diameter and up to 6 m high. 2% pyrite with a particle size distribution whose average diameter is in the order of 10 cm. FEMGV (www. building the discretised domain or mesh that describes the problem requires additional third party mesh generation tools. Typically. Column tests results provide the rate of flow and contents of the pregnant solution throughout the leach cycle. such as those produced by Paul et al. the ferric solution is applied on a cycle of 90 days on. it is common to inoculate the reactant was used for both this task and the results visualisation. These tests are ideal for parameterising and validating the core model as they are performed under well controlled conditions. where the general form is db ~A: exp ({B=RT ) (10) dt where b is the fraction of mineral reacted. contour plots and even animations through the use of appropriate visualisation software. Inst. Liquid phase reactions. (2005) using ideas originally drawn from Neuburg et al. Typically. Applications Column simulation A common practice in testing minerals for heap leach suitability is column testing. The ore contains 0. There has been significant interest in modelling chalocite heap leaching in recent times and so one Bacteria kinetics In copper sulphide and pyrite systems. but in the case of copper heap leaching. code to provide an environment that is tailored to the requirements of the particular model. which can be in the form of spreadsheets. There are numerous bacteria species that catalyse these reactions so it is difficult to model individual species. rore the ore density. 30 days off. R is the gas constant. including precipitation. Min. 30 days on then a final rest period of 10 days. Because the solution flow is greatly simplified in these cases. naturally occurring in the heap. The specific model implemented in the present work is not dissimilar from that of Leahy et al. and usability Visual Studio. The example presented here is for a run of mine chalcocite ore in a 6 m tall column under ferric (Fe3z) leach. The solution applied contains 4 g L21 of ferric and is at pH the particle size distribution and the bulk density (equivalently the voidage). are modelled using individual kinetics for each reaction. rm the current mineral radius. For complex 3D geometries. This enables features of the model that do not concern the user to be hidden and allows the required data input to be broadly accessible through forms. The experimentally measured parameters are typically the grade of the ore. b).Bennett et al. the model is parameterised using the small scale laboratory tests and validated on data from a 2 m column test. More details of the user environment design and performance are described in Gebhardt et al. Metall. C) 2006 VOL 115 NO 1 45 .65% copper in the form of chalcocite (Cu2S). Each bacteria species can exist in the liquid phase or attached to mineral surfaces and can transfer between the two states. such as acidothiobacillus ferro-oxidans. T the temperature in Kelvin. The same approach can be stretched to govern databases of simulation sets and manage data output. Over the course of the test. The value of Am comes from the general expression for the kinetic rate equations. bacteria drive the oxidation of ferrous ions to the primary reactant of ferric and also oxidise sulphur to form acid. Instead. ep the rock voidage. Simulation technology to support base metal ore heap leaching 4 Copper and ferric output from column 3 Copper recovery against time given by drm ~ dt 3rm Mi Deff co Am  à { 2 4pr2 o rore xi 3Deff ro co z2(ro {rm )rm (1{ep )Am Published by Maney Publishing (c) IOM Communications Ltd (9) where ro is the initial particle radius. Am comes from the kinetic rate equation for the current mineral. allowing the bacteria to build up a healthy population and spread through the heap when the conditions are conducive. (1992a.05 m diameter and .NET technologies can be used to create a user interface that wraps around the core simulation Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy (Trans.femsys. these tests are carried out in a combination of columns from 0. There may be some resident population of bacteria. Air is pumped in through the base so that there is plentiful oxygen. Mi the molecular weight of the mineral and xi the mass fraction of the mineral.1. in the present work.

The ore is basically the same run of mine material as used in the previous example. as well as the gold in the solution and that retained within the ore.Bennett et al. These values are illustrative of what can happen with compression of the inner stack owing to the weight of the outer stack and settling through a leach cycle. Metall. although this is possible to perform with the 3D model. The effect of having two slightly dissimilar materials next to each other is to produce a preferential flow path at the boundary. which itself can have a significant impact on the recovery of gold. This is shown clearly in Fig. However. 5.01 m s21. It is therefore vital to be able to accurately assess the solution distribution within the heap. 6. an approach has been developed for gold oxide simulation (where air flow is not important) to simplify the 3D 6 Solution flow under steady state conditions 8 Computational mesh for full regions described by shade heap with separate 46 Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy (Trans. Figure 8 shows part of the complex mesh required to represent a section of the full heap. In addition. Knowledge of these distributions is important for a number of reasons including: (i) assessing the inventory remaining within the heap and how it is held (ii) considering changes to operating strategies to recover gold that has somehow become trapped within the heap – either in the solution or still within the ore. Figure 9 shows solution application at the top surface. Solution is applied uniformly over the top face at an irrigation rate of 161026 m s21. with the material in area 1 with a solid fraction of 65% and in area 2 a solid fraction of 59%.0073 m s21 whereas in area 2. Min. Figure 7 shows the water saturation through the system at steady Simulating water balance within plant A considerable proportion of the water within the whole plant circuit is held within the heap. Fig. Simulation technology to support base metal ore heap leaching 7 Saturation under steady state conditions 5 Schematic of 2D slice model test case Published by Maney Publishing (c) IOM Communications Ltd would expect to see a good comparison between the predicted and measured overall recovery and indeed. Flow patterns in leaching ore dumped against slope: 2D slice simulations An example of using the 2D slice version of the model is for two similar materials stacked against a slope as shown in Fig. The toes of both stacks remain relatively dry and little leaching will occur here over time. where the lifts are clearly visible and the shading captures each of the areas under leach at the same time. the area close to the wall on the left hand side reaches as high as 70% saturation in this simulation. Figure 4 shows that both the copper and the ferric in the pregnant leach solution leaving the column are well matched although there is some initial overestimation of copper recovery in the first 20 days. 3D simulation of whole heap The results presented here are taken from a threedimensional full heap simulation used to model a gold– silver–copper oxide ore under cyanide leach. Figure 10 shows the CN concentration in solution within a cross-section of the heap. The stack is 10 m high and 10 m across at the base. it is totally impractical for water balance calculations that otherwise take a few seconds for each hour of operation. Obviously. Inst. the flow pattern through a cross-section of the heap and the corresponding saturation at the base. more difficult to match is the daily recovery and composition of the pregnant solution leaving the column. state. there are considerable variations in the level of saturation within the heap. As expected. As is clear. the saturated conductivity of area 1 is 0. As such. The solution flows faster along the wettest path. C) 2006 VOL 115 NO 1 . it is 0. 3 shows just such a match.

An important feature here is the capture of the volume of solution retained within the heap over time and how this responds to precipitation and drain down events. Inst. as is illustrated in Fig. Metall. Simulation technology to support base metal ore heap leaching Published by Maney Publishing (c) IOM Communications Ltd 9 Solution and precipitation at base. applied to top surface and through a cross-section of heap: light shades show more solution model specifically to capture all the important aspects of the process behaviour in an integrated yet sufficiently discriminating fashion to enable a water and concentration balance (of gold. copper and CN) to be tracked throughout the plant (see Gebhardt et al. the simplified heap leach model is merely a component model of the water balance circuit simulation. Conclusions Heap leaching is a process that represents a considerable challenge from the perspective of engineers who wish to gain a holistic understanding of all the factors that 10 Cross-section of heap showing CN in solution and Au in solution and in ore Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy (Trans. the authors have been able to provide accurate comparisons with full plant operation over time. 2005). Using this software. which is solved using the BILCO material balance software. Min. 11. In this context.Bennett et al. silver. C) 2006 VOL 115 NO 1 47 ..

M. L. Vargas. M. The present work has described in overview one attempt at the development of a core suite of computational models based on advanced CFD technology. M. In recent years. 1974. Cross. McBride. TMS. 2002. 10. Taylor. Pan. Wiertz. J. T. days as opposed to the long time scales (i. CSIRO. J. 314–322. Process Systems ’05. Warrendale. D.. in ‘Computational analysis in hydrometallurgy’. Miner.. 2003.. I. TMS. Van Genuchten. 1990. Trans. 31. PA.. (ed. Hydrometal... 1972. Eng. 892–898. C.). 14. 5. and Schwarz. 1986. Davis. B. Paul.. Montreal. 1992a. Res. Cape Town. A. in ‘Copper 2003 – Cobre 2003 Vol. 899–909. J. D. References 1. R. Gebhardt. 351–364. B. PA.. J. Appl. and Davidson. Elsevier. (ed. Australia. 315–319. 29. ‘Gas-solid reactions’. Model. Croft. R.. Trans. and Schlitt. 23B. D. Vic. Warrendale. T. Madsen. Uhrie. B. (ed.). M. 2005. Bouffard. PA. and Dixon. Young et al. N. 6B. 3rd Int. Academic Press. C. B. Vol. 1980. in ‘Copper 2003 – Cobre 2003 Vol. J. R. 31. D. Bartlett. Metall. 2003. and McCarter. CSIRO. M. The Netherlands. H. Int. Dixon. USBM Report of Investigations No. 1995. TMS. Trans. Paul. Castillo.. Amsterdam.Bennett et al. 1483–1496. C.. J. L. 45–59. 275–288. C.. E. B. Metall. PQ. H.. 8547. 8–24. E. Math. D. in ‘Hydrometallurgy 2003’. L. 15. on ‘CFD in the minerals and process industries’. It is not just that computational modelling of heap leach operations is very challenging owing to the complexity of the processes involved. L. 1975. Bennett. Celia. and Pantelis. J. USBM. D. and Ritchie.. J. CIM. King. (ed. 41–47. Min. in ‘Leaching and recovering copper from as-mined materials’. Inst. M. AusIMM. Process. L. 22. G.. The objectives of the present work have not only included developing successful models. R.. 400. South Africa. D. 1992b. NY. Y. and Cross. 2003. M. It is believed that these technologies can offer considerable benefits for real process optimisation through the structured exploration of a large number of potential scenarios in the order of. Meth.. Casas. Dixon and M. 1981. New York.. Trans. 33. J. Conf. Conf. Warrendale. 443. and Biswas. P. M. 493–515. Leahy. J. M.). R. 157–169.. Dixon. B.. PQ... Proc. and Hendrix. R. Croft. (ed. 1993. B. M. Herrera.. but also making them accessible to the minerals processing engineer. J.. Young et al. Metall. J. W. Amsterdam. Hydrometallurgy of copper (Book 2)’. 23. and Wierenga. R. A. Warrendale. in ‘Hydrometallurgy 2003’. T. 2003a. W.. K. The Netherlands. and Hendrix. D. 289–314... Schlitt).g. and McCarter. Braun. Proc. 26. (ed.. 30. 26. 925–931. H. to produce a simulation software technology to enable the analysis of a wide range of heap leaching processes from a number of perspectives: (i) 1D models of laboratory sized columns (ii) 2D slice models to evaluate a range of operational strategies in full heaps (iii) full 3D models to enable the tracking of every aspect of operation of a heap and to characterise the ongoing inventory within both the ore matrix and the solution retained within the heap (iv) simplified models within the context of a whole plant water balance model to provide a basis for assessing the strategies to ensure that extreme events (e. Soil Sci. 12. 2003. M. 16. Schlesinger. A. 25. G. Uhrie.J.. J. Am. and Vargas. PA. G. Fluid Flow.A. NY. 1087–1101. Martinez. D. Y. 5. Metall. Bendigo. 249–258.. 1717–1726. G. C) 2006 VOL 115 NO 1 .. D. Leahy. New York. J.. 29B. W. Young et al. 4. C. Water Resour. Vargas. Trans. J. J. Cathles. ‘Extractive metallurgy of copper’.. Davenport. in ‘Solution mining’. 27. C. Proc. at most. D. M.G. E. G... C. SME-AIME. 24B. Bennett. Appl. M.. 20. CIM. Montreal. Cathles. McBride. Bennett.A. N. L. Published by Maney Publishing (c) IOM Communications Ltd 48 Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy (Trans. 23B. 13. Conf. Casas. 2000. CD Proc. there has been a good deal of effort to develop process models that might support minerals engineers in optimising heap leaching operations.. and Gebhardt. Moreno. M. C.. 1997. 1991. 18. Bennett. and Petersen. NY. Model. M. W..). P. C. 1–44.. Conf. M.). J. A. Green. A. J.. 32. R. P. and Zarba.. 1998. in ‘Hydrometallurgy 2003’.. CIM.A. M. Proc. 1998. Cross.. J. precipitation and drain down) do not cause problems with regard to capacity. C. many months) and huge expense involved in full scale tests. Australia.. MEI. P.. 34. L. (ed. Croft. J... Salt Lake City. Math. 2005a. Cross. W. A.. Cross. and Gebhardt. and Ritchie. 2003. 27–41. M.). 6. Even though core models of such processes can be assembled.. B. Schwarz. Anne. 617– 624. Warrendale. 3. 1976.. D.. 7. 247–264. the issues of usability are not inconsiderable. Martinez. 1992.). ‘A mixed kinetics dump leaching model of ores containing a variety of copper sulfide minerals’.. Conf.. Green. M. 9.. Bouloutas. J. 44. Melbourne. 24. Davidson. R. N. I.. T. and Dixon. E. Sohn. Neuburg. Szekely.A. 453–458. G. 28.. T.A. Dixon. November 2005. 553– 560. 16.. and Sohn.. 581–586. G. Riveros et al. UT. Australia 2004. M. Metall. D. McBride. Petersen. Dry). L. South Africa. M. 2nd edn. McBride. USA.. 21. Trans. in ‘Bioleaching processes’. D. PA. C. E. Leahy. Y. G. Sohn. TMS. to be published. MEI.e. 8..J. Metall. and Wadsworth. Croft. The Metallurgical Society of AIME. VI. Montreal.. J.. Bennett.. G.. Vic. J. 35. 2005b.. K. November 2005.. Torma et al. P. R. M. New York. and Gebhardt.. R. M. B. Computational modelling ’05. M. on ‘CFD in mineral & metal processing and power generation’. Min. R. L. Simulation technology to support base metal ore heap leaching 11 Comparison of daily predicted and measured Au recovery for early stages of heap operation ultimately govern the effective operation of industrial scale heaps. M. Dixon. VI. C. Vol.. Pergamon Press. Int. S. BACMIN. an accurate representation of a wide range of simultaneously interacting physical and chemical phenomena is also required. J. J. 2. Cape Town.. J. W. E.. 1993a. Young et al. 1993b. Hydrometallurgy of copper (Book 2)’. 24B. T... Metall.. A.. N. and Moreno. Davidson. L. VI. J. 58. 4th edn. M.L. and Schwarz. 10.. 31. Metall. Int. Evans. T. Dixon. 17.P. 537–548. M. B. I.. R.A. Res. Cross. and Badilla-Ohlbaum. 11. PQ. M. (ed. 2003b. and Gebhardt. 563–579. Riveros et al. Lewis. M. ‘Dynamics of fluids in porous media’. M. J. 549–555. L. and Gebhardt. K.. (ed.. Schwarz). Gordon & Breach Science Publishers. T. Water Resour. J. Trans. J. H.. Numer. T. 1980. M. P. and Wadsworth. G. Elsevier Science. and Apps. Bear. (ed. to be published. Pantelis...E. 19. C. R. in ‘Hydrometallurgy 2003’.