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Impact of silica on cadmium cementation by zinc dust in a zinc SX/EW plant

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2016, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp. 126-130

Janwong, A.; De Wet, K.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.19150/mmp.6748


Horsehead Metal Products is a zinc refinery in Mooresboro, NC, treating crude Waelz oxide (WOX) to produce special high-grade zinc by a hydrometallurgical process comprising leaching, zinc solvent extraction/electrowinning, melting and casting and bleed treatment. Cadmium removal by zinc-dust cementation plays an essential role in the bleed treatment circuit to prevent cadmium buildup in the circuit. Silica, though present at a low level of approximately 0.3 percent in the WOX feed material, had a significant impact on the efficiency of cadmium cementation with zinc dust, most likely due to the passivation of zinc dust particles with silica gel. Solid/liquid separation efficiency by filter press was also affected. To identify the source of the silica issues, silica levels were mapped throughout the circuit, and adjustments, including using pregnant leach solution as the feed to cementation, and pH control in the WOX leaching and neutralization were introduced to mitigate the issues created by silica gel in the circuit.