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Minerals Engineering, Vol. 10, No. 8, pp. 859--870, 1997
1997 Elsevier Science Ltd
Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved
0892-6875/97 $17.00+0.00
N. P O WE L L a n d M. A . J O R D A N
Camborne School of Mines (University of Exeter), Redruth,
Cornwall, TR15 3SE, UK. E-mail:
(Rece&ed 4 January 1997; accepted 22 April 1997)
The evaluation of batch experimental of data from laboratory and pilot testwork e.g. batch
leaching of metal fr om sulphide ores, may be utilised to determine the optimum process
conditions. Statistical analysis techniques shouM allow f or the time-dependent nature of
the data ,zs failure to recognise and correct f or such time dependency may lead to
incorrect interpretation of the data. This paper illustrates a corrective technique f or time-
dependent batch data. The technique is demonstrated using a typical data set fr om a batch
bioleach experiment. 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd
Sulphide Ores, Leaching, Bioleaching
Preliminary batch leaching tests such as the dissolution of copper from a low-grade (<1% Cu) are invariably
the starting point on which subsequent larger scale tests are based. These tests may vary in size but all will
provide valuable experimental data pertaining to key operating parameters such as reaction kinetics, strength
of lixiviants, metal recovery etc. Consequently accurate interpretation of experimental data is essential both
in terms of focusing: any on-going experimental work (optimisation of process conditions) as well as in the
final selection of process conditions. The fundamental problem with interpretation of batch leaching data
using conventional statistical techniques, is that the data is time-dependent i.e. metal concentration increases
with time (ordinarily) and excludes itself from much conventional statistical analysis. The time-dependent
nature of the raw data must therefore be compensated for. Jordan et al. [1] noted the problem of time
dependent leaching data and this paper is their response to this perceived gap within the currently available
literature commonly cited within the mining and minerals field. Napier-Munn [2] also considered similar
problems in analysing continuous plant data using the ANOVA technique.
Oxidation of Sphalerite Mineral Sulphide Concentrate
A mixed mesophilk: culture (denoted by WJ in this paper) [3] was utilised at 30+2C for the oxidative
860 N. Powell and M. A. Jordall
dissolution of zinc from the mineral sulphide concentrate containing 53.3% Zn and 10.7% Fe. A 5%w/v
pulp density, in a nutrient salt solution, was prepared in a 250ml Erlenmeyer flask and autoclaved to sterilise
the flask contents. Each flask, except the control flasks which were inoculated with a 10%v/v solution of
thymol in methanol, were inoculated with a 10%v/v inoculum of the requisite culture. The nutrient salt
solution contained MgSO4.7H20 (0.4g/I), NH4SO 4 (0.4g/I), K2HPO4.3H20 (0.1g/l) and KCI (0. l g/1).
Each flask was sampled daily and the pH of the solution adjusted to predetermined level; pH ranges of
1.95-2.00, 1.55-1.60, 1.35-1.40 and 1.15-1.20 were used and adjustment was only attempted to the upper
limit i.e. if solution pH was below range then no pH adjustment was made.
Samples were stored at 4C prior to analysis by atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS).
Oxidation of the sphalerite concentrate with the mesophilic cultures, at variable starting solution pH values,
resulted in variable zinc leaching and recovery rates which are summarised in Table 1. Figures 1 and 2
show zinc concentration versus leaching time for each of the different starting solution pH values. The data
sets in Figure 1 have been interpreted using a set of French curves whilst the data sets in Figure 2 have
been fiited with a line derived using the mathematical technique of least squares regression.
TABLE 1 Summary of zinc leaching and recovery data from the sphalerite concentrate.
Solution pH
Maxi mum Rate of Zinc
Solubilisation (mg/l/hr)
Control 0.8 0.5
1.0 7.7 5.4
1.2 9.5 6.9
1.4 28.2 18.0 56.7
1.6 37.1 18.0 50.4
During oxidation of the concentrate the solution pH in all flasks was noted to decrease i.e. solution acidity
increased, with the result that on termination of the experiment the solution pH in all flasks was < I. 1. Table
1 illustrates that for the experimental conditions investigated a starting solution pH value of 1.4 yielded
superior zinc recovery although the maximum rate of zinc leaching was lower than that of a starting solution
pH of 1.6. However, it should be noted that after 500 hours leaching the rate of zinc dissolution decreased
from 27.85 mgl/hr to 10.01 mg/1/hr resulting in a lower zinc recovery to solution. Based on these results
we would suggest that leaching the concentrate at a starting solution pH of 1.4 should maximise zinc
recovery from the concentrate. Optimisation of process parameters was not attempted.
The statistical methodology on which the time-dependent nature of batch leaching data can be eradicated
is based on Ergun' s test[4] which assesses the equality of slopes. In the case presented the leaching data
for each test condition was fitted by a regression line and the gradients of each of these lines compared to
determine whether the gradients could be considered equal.
Had the data set presented simply consisted of independent columns of figures then to test for significant
Ba t c h l e a c hi ng da t a a ~ a l y s i s 861
differences betwe,~n them the appropriate statistical technique would be One-way Analysis of Variance
(ANOVA), which is j ust an extension of the t-test for means. However, the batch-leaching data presented
here is time-depe~'dent and thus violates a fundamental assumption of ANOVA (or of the non-parametric
alternatives). Time is effectively a third associated variable and it would appear that ' correction' of the
original data in some form is necessitated prior to conventional statistical testing.
Zi nc Concent rat i on (g/l)

50 150 250 350 450 550 650 750
Ti me ( Hours)
Ct l ( 1. 0 ) x WJ ( 1. 0 ) * WJ ( 1. 2 ) WJ ( 1. 4) x WJ ( 1. 6 )
Fig. 1 Zinc solubilisation from a sphalerite concentration using a mixed mesophilic culture.
To eradicate the time-dependency an obvious approach is to consider the rates of zinc extraction and to test
for differences between these for the varying solution pH values. The question then arises as to the time
period(s) over which the rates for the different pH values are to be compared. If ' small' time periods were
chosen (see Figure 3), for example, some form of numerical differentiation could be used to estimate the
rates but this might be considered unnecessarily involved.
On the other hand, file largest possible time period which can be chosen for calculation of a rate is of course
the range (in time) of the original data itself. The rate of metal dissolution for a particular solution pH (or
the control) then equates to the gradient or the slope of the linear regression line for that pH (The linear
regression line, in it.,; own fight, provides important information for interpolation and estimation purposes).
The appropriate tes! would then be an ' ANOVA for slopes' provided the linear correlation coefficients
862 N. Powell and M. A. Jordan
for the different pH' s were all deemed significant. Conveniently, although little-known, such a test does
exist, and is cited (as an exercise problem) in Draper and Smith [5]; the test appears to have been originally
proposed in Ergun [4]. The mathematical methodology is outlined below whereby the equality of the slopes
of a set of regression lines are tested;
Zi nc Conc e nt r a t i on ( g/ l )
Xx x
X x
50 150 250 350 450 550 650 750
Ti me ( Hou r s )
-'-- Ct l ( 1. 0) --x- WJ( 1.0) + WJ( 1. 2) ~ WJ( 1. 4) --x- WJ( 1. 6)
Fig.2 Regression lines for sphalerite leaching data.
Ergun' s test assesses (as a Null Hypothesis) the equality of the slopes 13 i of say, m lines, represented by
the models
= - + ( 1)
F or i = 1, 2 , . . mandj = 1,2 ..... n i.
It is supposed that n i bi-variate pairs (Til, Yil), (Ti2, Yi2)"..(Tini, Yin) are available for estimation of the
slopes of the i th line and further that the error or residual terms 8ij follow a N(O,o 2) distribution
Batch leaching data analysis 863
independently (The m variables T i will in the specific case-study here all be represented by a common
independent time-variate T).
Zinc Concentration ( g/ l )
6 -
0 I ' 1 I ! I I I I I
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
Time (Hours)
[ - - Metal Cone. (g/l) I
Fig.3 Illustration of rate determination concept for comparison of rates of metal leaching between data sets.
This method would involve the calculation of gradients between all data points on individual lines e.g.
gradients for the lines AB, BC, CD etc. The method proposed determines the gradient of the
regression line fitted to the whole data set and uses this as a basis for comparison between data sets.
The least-squares estimate of [~ is
n i
b . - j=l ( 2)
I n l
E (r
with sum of square.,; (1 degree of freedom)
n i
and Residual Sum of Squares (n i - 2 degrees of freedom)
864 N. Powell and M. A. Jordan
n i
RSS(bi ) = E (Y .i -Y i )2-SS(bi ) = si, say (4)
If the Null Hypothesis that ~i = 6, say, for all i, is assumed true, then the least-squares estimate of I~ is
m n i
E E <; - ~)<,- ~)
b = i=l j=, (5)
m n i
E E <,-E)~
i=1 .j=l
with Sum of Squares (1 degree of freedom)
m " , t
ss{b) = b'~fE E <~i,-g) ~
i=1 j = l
I. J
and Residual Sum of Squares m
(~_, n i -2m degrees of f r eedom)
m ni
RSS<b) = E E <r,,-~y-ss<b)
i=1 j= l
= S, say.
Following calculation of these sum of squares an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) table can be formed as
follows (see Tables 2 and 3).
T A BL E 2 Ge n e r a l A N O V A t a b l e f o r E r g u n ' s t e s t .
Source Degrees of
Sum of Squares Mean Square F
b 1 SS(b) M,
" ( 7 )
AU bigiven b m-I ~, SS( b, ) - SSO ) M2 F~= M2
Residual ~ n~ - 2m by subtraction s 2
m ~ll 1 | 1
Total (TSS) n, - m ~"~ E (gl - g )
i = l i - | , l - I
Batch l e a c h i n g data analysis 865
The Null Hypothesis Ho: 13i= [3 is tested by comparing the statistic F 2 with an appropriate percentage point
F ,m-I
(tabulated) of the ~ n,-2m distribution. If H o is not rejected then b (Eq.5) is used as the common slope
of the lines.
TABLE 3 Case Study Data.
i T YI Y2 Y 3 Y 4 Y s
time C~l(1.0) WJ(1) WJ(1.2) WJ(1.4) WJ(1.6)
1 66 1.659 1.499 1.059 1.611 1.573
2 67 1.686 1.661 1.385 1.888 1.472
3 90 1.724 2.260 1.690 2.406 1.981
4 114 1.705 2.118 1.846 2.477 2.115
5 136.5 1.736 2.411 1.990 2.848 2.176
6 160.5 1.923 2.553 2.076 3.059 2.423
13 448 1.756 3.978 4.078 8.682 8.928
14 472 1.764 3.785 3.887 8.670 9.746
15 496 1.789 4.225 9.406 10.528 3.936
4.864 16 592 1.921 5.061 11.177 10.808
17 616 1.895 4.391 5.222 10.943 10.896
18 664 2.063 5.452 5.836 13.514 13.038
19 691 2.131 5.180 5.389 11.261 11.816
20 736 2.124 5.575 5.289 11.767 12.416
21 785 2.135 5.819 6.792 15.117 13.421
From the data
( T - T ) ( Y : - ~ ( I) = 555.884,
(T-T)(Y3-Z~;3) = 7625. 449,
(T-T)(Y2-'Fg2) = 5947. 159
( T- T) ( Y4- ' : ' 4) = 19450.483
: ~ ( T - T ) ( Y s - 3 : 5) = 20077.193,
5 21
E E (T-T)(Yij -~fi) = 53656. 168
ill j=l
Also see Table 4.
Now from the definition of sample variance,
866 N. Powell and M. A. Jordan
(Ti)-Ti) 2
= ( 235. 4937) 2 f or all i.
also since T = TI = T 2 = T 3 = T 4 = T 5 giving
E (Tij - Ti )
= 1109145. 655 f or all i
and taking the 'cross-product' sums given under the case study data (see Table 3) and Using Eq.2
555. 884
b I = = 0. 000501
1109145. 655
5947. 159
b 2 = = 0. 005362
1109145. 655
7625. 449
b 3 = = 0. 006875
1109145. 655
19450. 483
b 4 = = 0. 017536
1109145. 655
20077. 193
b~ = = 0. 018101
" 1109145. 655
5 21
i=l j=l
= 5( 1109145. 655) = 55455728. 275
so using Eq 5.
53656. 168
b =
5545728. 275
= 0. 0096752248
TABLE 4 Means and Standard Deviations of Variables.
Mean Sample Standard Deviation
235.4937 3 8 2 . 5 0
1 . 8 5 7 2 0.14888 st
Y2 3.6541 1.29172
Y3 3.5122 1.63893
Y4 7.1530 4.19448
Y5 7.0089 4.33868
Batch leaching data analysis
Now considering the calculations necessary to form the ANOVA table (see Table 2) in turn;
From Eq.6
5 21
SS(b) = b 2 E E (T/j-T/)2 = ( 0"0096752248) 2( 5545728"27)
i=1 j= l
8 6 7
5 21
iffil j= l
= 2o( s : )
= 20( 0. 148882+ .... 4. 338682) = 815. 578 f r om Tabl e 4
Next (see Table 5) using Eq.3
SS(bi) = 20bi 2( 235. 4937) 2
TABLE 5 Tabl e o f Sums of Square Values.
b, S$ (b~)
0.000501 0.278
0.005362 31.889
0.006875 52.424
0.017536 52.424
0.018101 341.075
Y. 7 8 9 . 0 7 3
So from Table 2, the ANOVA table for this Case study may be drawn up as in Table 6.
TABLE 6 ANOVA val ues f or Case Study Data.
Source Degrees of Sum of squares Mean Square F
b 1 519.135 519.135 1860.7
All b~ given b 4 269.938 67.485 241.88
Residual 95 26.505 0.279
Total 100 815.578
In order to test the Null hypothesis: ~i = ~ for all i, the statistic F2=241.88. Consulting tables of the F-
distribution this is very highly significant (even at the 0.1% level) and therefore the Null Hypothesis must
clearly be rejected. (The statistic F 2 = 1860.70 would have been used to test whether ~ = 0 bad the
Hypothesis above been accepted).
The next stage is to calculate the equation of the (five) regression lines, using Equation 1 with the slopes
given by their respective estimates given in Eq.8. This is illustrated in Table 7 (means from Table 2).
HI K I 0: 1 - [
868 N. Powell and M. A. Jordan
r i
0.749 (control) 1
0.978 2
0.988 3
0.984 4
0.983 5
7 Cal cul ated values of regression lines for Case Study Data.
Model using Eq. 8 Re-arranged Regression Equation
Y- 1.8572 = 0.00050 I(t - 382_5) Y = 1.6655675 + 0.00050It
Y- 3.6543 = 0.005362(t - 382_5) Y = 1.6.3335 + 0.005362t
Y- 3.5122 = 0.006875(t - 382_5 Y = 0.8825125 + 0.006875t
Y- 7.1530 = 0.017536(t - 382_5) Y = 0.44548 + 0.017536t
Y - 7.0089 = 0.018 ! 0 l(t - 382-5) Y = 0.0852675 + 0.01810 It
Note all non-control values of r (the correlation co-efficient) are highly significant even at the 0.1% level.
For purposes of reporting the calculated regression lines listed in Table 7, and determining the rate of zinc
solubilisation (see Table 1), these equations have been quoted to 2 significant figures (see Table 8).
The gradient and intercept values of each of the equations in Table 8 are ' small' . Hence the number of
decimal places quoted and used in the calculation of these are required to obtain the requisite degree of
accuracy. It should be evident that rounding of intermediate numerical values would have resulted in an
appreciable variation in the final equation.
TABLE 8 Fi nal reported val ues for cal cul ated regressi on equati ons
Report ed Regressi on
Y = 1.7 + 0.00050t
Y = 1.6 + 0.0054t
Y = 0.9 + 0.0069t
Y = 0.5-i- 0.018t
Y = 0.09 + 0.018t
Ergun' s test has been applied to all the batch-leaching data with the initial null hypothesis that the slopes
of the (five) regression lines are equal. Since one of the regression lines will be fitted to the control data
the hope is obviously that this hypothesis will be rejected. I f this is the case then subsequent tests could be
carried out for differences between the rates for varying solution pH values if required. I f not then the
conclusion is that there is no difference between the control and test conditions (no further analysis
required). Figure 2 illustrates the regression lines for the case study data.
Using the procedure outlined there are statistically significant differences between the rates of zinc
extraction for the columns of data (although at this stage it may not be possible to say specifically where
the differences lie). It is evident when examining the regression equations that there is a difference between
the control data and the rest i.e. the sterile acid leach and the bio-catalysed leach (the latter having a positive
effect on metal leaching rate). I f this were the only question of interest a simplification might be to deal
with j ust two columns of data as before, one the control data as before, and the second containing the me.ans
of the' solution pH' columns at the chosen times i.e. Ergun' s test with i = 2.
Ergun' s test thus enables practioners to deal with similar time-dependent batch data; this is obviously useful
since the data will often be of this type. I f it is required to specifically test further the non-control columns
for difference in the rate of metal extraction from one solution pH, as it is in the case presented here where
we require to identify which solution pH value results in the maximum rate of metal solubilisation, then an
Batch leaching data analysis 869
extension to the procedure needs to be adopted.
The basis of analy,;is of data from a subsequent test or tests between regression lines representing different
solution pH value,,; may be dependent upon factors external to that of the data set. For example the co-
precipitation of zinc at solution pH values in excess of 1.5 has been noted[6] hence even though the rate
of zinc solubilisation may be maximised at a solution pH 1.6 operating constraints negate such conditions.
For the case study if we assume that co-precipitation of metals is not problematic, and the null hypothesis
states that the slop,~ of the regression lines to be tested are equal, then the next test would be to determine
whether or not this hypothesis holds for the control line and solution pH 1.6 line. If the hypothesis is
rejected then this would indicate that there is a significant difference between the rate of zinc extraction
when operating at a solution pH 1.6 and the control (note that the control in each case was the same
solution pH under biologically sterile conditions). A similar test could be carried out for each of the other
solution pH lines (versus the control) to prove that there was a beneficial effect following the introduction
of a Thiobacillus culture in to the leach solution.
More importantly is the scenario where there visually appears to be very little difference between two sets
of data e.g. the solution pH lines 1.2 and 1.4 in Figure 2. In such a case Ergun' s test would be applied to
these two data sets alone (excluding the control data from which both of these lines had previously been
proven to be signiticantly different) to assess whether to accept the null hypothesis that these lines were
equal. A result indicating that the null hypothesis was true would indicate no significant difference between
these two data sets For the two lines indicated Ergun' s test indicated that there was no difference.
The methodology o~atlined may be tailored to suit individual case studies where time-dependent data requires
analysis. Interpretation of the results from Ergun' s test can be based both on the data to be analysed and
other factors both raetallurgical and economic.
Eradication of time dependency from batch leaching data is a requirement prior to the application
of certain ~;tandard statistical techniques e.g. ANOVA.
Regression of batch data followed by ANOVA on the gradients of these regressed lines has been
shown/proven to differentiate between data sets for the case study presented. This technique should
be directly applicable to other instances where analysis of batch data is required.
Jordan, M.A., Powell, N., Chin, C.K. & Phillips, C.V., Experimental Data Analysis: A Guide To
The Selection Of Simple Statistical Tests, Minerals Engineering, 10, No.3, 275-286 (1997).
Napier-Munn, T., Detecting Performance Improvements In Trials With Time-Varying Mineral
Processes - - Three Case Studies, Minerals Engineering, 8 No.8, 843-858 (1995).
Jordan, M.A., Barr, D.W. & Phillips, C.V., Iron and Sulphur Speciation and Cell Surface
Hydrophobicity during Bacterial Oxidation of a Complex Copper Concentrate, Minerals
Engineering, 6, Nos 8-10, 1001-1011 (1993).
Ergun, S., Application of the principle of least squares to families of straight lines, Industrial and
Engineering Chemistry, 48, 2063-2068 (Nov. 1956).
Draper, N. & Smith, H., Applied Regression Analysis (Second Edition), John Wiley & Sons Inc,
(New York), ISBN 0-471-02995-5, (1981).
Personal Communication, F.Pooley, Department of Materials Engineering., University of Wales,
College of Cardiff, (1995).
870 N. Powell and M. A. Jordan
The authors would like to thank The Institution of Mining & Metallurgy for financial assistance (1995
Stanley Elmore Fellowship Award to Dr M.A. Whitbread-Jordan).