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Teck Aurubis: An integrated mine to metal

approach to develop high arsenic copper deposits

using the CESL process
Teck Resources Limited
Keith Mayhew, Rob Mean, Colin Miller, John Thompson
Aurubis AG
Patricio Barrios, Christophe Koenig, Vanya Omaynikova,
Ole Wagner

 Strong demand for copper from emerging economies will place increasing
pressure on developing new mine capacity
 Future capacity will increasingly have to be mined from non-traditional
copper resources, specifically those with lower grades, more complex
mineralogy, and increasing levels of deleterious elements
 One element that has garnered considerable industry attention is arsenic,
where concentrations in existing and future mines appear to be on the rise
 Arsenic is among the most challenging elements for copper smelters to
control as it contributes to environmental concerns during metallurgical
processing and materials management

Photo: Antamina Operation, Peru


The Arsenic Challenge

 Increasing arsenic levels in concentrates and increasingly restrictive
environmental legislation worldwide is widening the gap between capacity
to handle arsenic in smelters and arsenic in concentrates










:Global average arsenic
:Arsenic in concentrates [kt]

Lack of arsenic processing capacity from

2015 onwards: 30 kt to 40 kt of arsenic

71 81

78 87



172 142 194 165



:Arsenic in concentrates [kt]

:Arsenic smelting capacities [kt]

Assumption: Maximum global average
arsenic in concentrate blend: 0.21% As

Source: Internal analysis, data from Brook Hunt

Teck Aurubis
Technical Partnership (1 of 2)
 Teck and Aurubis independently identified increasing arsenic content in
copper ores and copper concentrates as an emerging challenge, and
potential opportunity, for the copper industry
 Teck has developed a proprietary hydrometallurgical process (CESL) to
treat copper concentrates, including those with elevated arsenic
 Aurubis is the leading processor of complex custom concentrates by using
environmentally sound state of the art technologies
 In 2009 Teck and Aurubis formed a partnership to develop a new
sustainable mine to metal solution to exploit future copper resources high
in arsenic concentration

Photos: Copper production, Aurubis operations, Germany


Teck Aurubis
Technical Partnership (2 of 2)
 Strategic joint investment to solve technical issues related to treating
concentrates with elevated arsenic using hydrometallurgy
 Strong technical, environmental, safety, and product stewardship alignment
between companies
 Provides an environmentally sound and cost effective on-site processing
route for high arsenic bearing copper and copper-gold ore bodies
Processing Route







Cu Products

CESL Refinery




CESL Copper-Arsenic Technology

Teck-Aurubis approach to processing high arsenic bearing concentrates is

favorable as mineral extraction and arsenic fixation takes place in a single
autoclave vessel

The technology effectively treats refractory copper sulphide minerals

without the use of exotic reagents, ultra-fine grinding, or extreme
temperature and pressure

Importantly CESL technology uses existing commercial technologies such

as pressure oxidation, solvent extraction and electrowinning

It has been thoroughly developed and proven at scale achieving high

metallurgical recoveries and product quality requirements

Photos: Vales 10ktpa copper cathode CESL refinery, Brazil


CESL Copper Process

Copper minerals are oxidized and leached

using recycled raffinate
Arsenic minerals: predominantly
enargite (Cu3AsS4) and tennantite

Autoclave conditions: 150C, 1380 kPa,

60-90 minutes retention time

Conditions promote arsenic to react with

iron and precipitate as ferric arsenate

Cu leach residue is washed and filtered

Partial neutralization of raffinate for acid

balance control

Leach liquor is processed through solvent


Copper is transferred to pure electrolyte

stream and cathodes plated

Copper Concentrate

Pressure oxidation

Cu leach residue

Solvent extraction


CESL Gold Process

Gold and silver are leached at elevated

pressure with recycled cyanide solution

Limited dissolution of sulphur because of

short leach retention time

Gold and silver recovery using standard

carbon Adsorption-Desorption (ADR) and
electrowinning technology
Copper recovery from solution and
cyanide regeneration from recycled
solution (Acidification)

Cyanide recovery from plant effluent

stream (Volatilization Reneutralization)

Cyanide destruction by conventional

means on minor bleed stream

Cu leach residue

Pressure cyanide
Precious metals

Cyanide recovery

Cyanide Destruction

Technical Program
 A comprehensive 24-month technical work program started in Q3 2009 to
assess the application of CESL technology to high arsenic bearing copper
and copper-gold concentrates
 The program included a series of bench, continuous pilot, and
demonstration scale testing to achieve the following main objectives:
Determine level of occupational exposure to arsenic during pilot
Confirm metal extractions at the continuous pilot plant scale
Assess arsenic deportment in the copper and gold processes and
generate representative final residue samples for stability analysis
Develop protocol and complete residue stability program with Dr.
George Demopoulos (Professor, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)
Confirm engineering design criteria, materials of construction and derisk the scale-up of the gold process by operating a demonstration plant

Technical Results
Summary (1 of 3)
Copper and Gold Plant Leaching Results
 High copper extractions (~97% - 98%) were achieved at bench and pilot
from a wide range of arsenic bearing concentrates (~1.4% - 4.6% arsenic)
 Near quantitative deportment of arsenic to Cu leach residue (>99%);
minor levels of arsenic leached into circulating process solution (<0.1 g/L)
 Very good gold extractions (~95%) are achievable but highly dependent on
mineralogy of gold in concentrate
 Gold pilot plant results indicated no arsenic leaching in the CESL gold
process; undetectable in cyanide solution

Photos: CESL Operations, Richmond, BC, Canada


Technical Results
Summary (2 of 3)
Health and Safety
 Sample data confirmed air quality (<0.005 mg/m3 for 12 hour shift) and
biological monitoring (<50 g As/g creatinine) results were well below
government occupational exposure levels (Worksafe British Columbia)
Residue Stability
 As determined by internal MLA work, arsenic was found to precipate as
Basic Ferric Arsenate Sulphate (Type II Scorodite)
 Long-term residue stability work is ongoing; results will be published upon

Photos: CESL Operations, Richmond, BC, Canada


Technical Results
Summary (3 of 3)
Gold Demonstration Operations
 Project exceeded ramp up targets to design rates in first few months
 To date has achieved exceptional metallurgical performance:
90% - 95% gold extraction and 85% silver extraction from gold plant
>98% gold recovery and >95% silver recovery from leach liquor
93% cyanide recovery from AVR plant
<1 mg/L cyanide in effluent treatment plant (SO2/Air)

Photos: CESL Operations, Richmond, BC, Canada


Case Study (1 of 3)
 Collectively Teck and Aurubis have completed multiple preliminary financial
evaluations to assess the commercial viability of a mine to metal operation
for high arsenic resources using CESL technology
 The economic assessment presented in this paper incorporates
metallurgical results from a series of high arsenic bearing copper
concentrate samples, two from Northern Peru projects
 Mine-mill1, and refinery2 cost estimates were gathered from external
consulting and service groups and past CESL feasibility studies
Project Assumptions - Mine, Mill, CESL Refinery

Metal production profile

Total capital costs

Total operating costs

~200k t/a copper cathode

~65k oz/a gold
~1.3M oz/a silver

~3,500 US$M

~1.10 US$/lb Cu

1 - Brook Hunt Copper Mine Cost Service (March 2011): Greenfield Projects Capital Intensity
2 - Internal estimate: Factored from third party engineering cost estimates for CESL Cu-Au refinery
3 - Brook Hunt metal prices (March 2011): 2.50 US$/lb Cu, 900 US$/oz Au, 15 US$/oz Ag


Case Study (2 of 3)

The positive results of the case study show that developing an integrated
mine to metal project on an arsenic containing copper-gold deposit can be
economically feasible with todays long-term metal price assumptions

With a break-even copper price of ~2.00 US$/lb, the economics of a

project of this scale are robust enough to show a noteworthy positive
return given the current market forecasts
NPV Sensitivities
Cu Price

Financial Metric



~1,700 US$M



Break-Even Price

~2.00 US$/lb

4 - 8% Discount Rate

NPV ($Millions)

Economic Valuation Pre Tax






Change in Cost and Price


Case Study (3 of 3)

As industry best practices were assumed for the mine-mill component of

the case study, the following aspects related to the hydrometallurgical
refinery are discussed:

Residue Management: safe storage of stable form of ferric arsenate

bearing residue in a lined pond with long term monitoring is possible
Air Quality: lower direct impact on air quality from hydrometallurgical
refinery; impact from indirect emissions comparable to industry standards
Water Use & Emissions: net water demand for process compares well to
traditional copper market standards; use of seawater is possible
Health & Safety: occupational exposure to arsenic is expected to be low
and manageable based on recent pilot trials of high arsenic bearing
Community Social Responsibilities and Potentials: positive proactive
engagement is critical; in country value added production of copper
cathode has the potential to yield significant additional benefits to the



The implementation of CESL technology through an integrated mine-tometal approach is a sustainable option for the processing of ore from
arsenic challenged copper resources

The technical program undertaken by the Teck-Aurubis partnership has

confirmed: metallurgical performance objectives, sound environmental,
health and safety performance standards, and commercial assumptions
and project economics

This success is allowing Teck and Aurubis to pursue copper resources not
previously considered for development using an economically competitive
and environmentally superior process

Photos: Teck South American operations