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Belmar uses a fully automated selective ion exchange process to recover valuable Copper (Cu) from acid mine water streams. The regenerant from the ion exchange process contains the recovered Cu which is harvested using a high performance copper electrowinning process. This produces a high purity Copper cathode.

Other metals and minerals can be recovered through further physical chemical processes if required.

samples before and after cleaning

Samples before and after treatment.

Economic Benefits

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Our system can be integrated into existing neutralization plants and its modular design means that clients have the flexibility to process acid mine water streams with the highest Copper concentrations.

Rapid payback on a client's investment is achieved by the revenues produced by the high purity copper cathodes and other metals recovered.

The return on investment is further increased by the fact that we have developed a method of regenerating the ion exchange resin which minimises poisoning by ferric ions. This means that the service life of valuable resin is considerably extended.

Acid will be recovered during the electrowinning process which is used for ion exchange regeneration and subsequent Copper recovery.  We find that our process reduces fresh acid use by at least 85% - this is a significant saving compared to other copper recovery techniques.

Background

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Acid mine water or acid rock drainage occurs naturally within some environments as part of the rock weathering process, but it is exacerbated by large scale earth disturbances found with copper mining or exhausted leach heap operations.

As a result of exposure to air and water the oxidation of metal sulphides within the structure of rock generates acidity and when combined with bacteria which significantly increases the speed of metal ion decomposition this will produce an acidic waste stream which contains dissolved aluminium, copper, iron and zinc.

Copper concentrations in the acid mine water can range from just a few mg/l up to 1,000mg/l of dissolved copper.

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In most cases acid mine water streams are neutralised before being released to the environment, resulting in a metal precipitate that eventually builds up as  sludge in a tailings pond. Sludge is dewatered producing a waste requiring hazardous landfill disposal.

The Belmar approach is to recover the value of the Cu by selectively removing it from the acid mine water producing a valuable saleable high purity Cu cathode. Other metals and minerals can be recovered if economical.